Recent graduate Malik Figaro '16 was recognized with honorable mention in the DuPont Challenge Science Essay Competition for his research paper he wrote while attending Harlem Academy.
The competition is one of the foremost science contests for K-12 students, receiving more than 9,000 submissions. Students are asked to write a 700- to 1,000-word essay in one of four categories: food, energy, protection, and innovation. Malik was awarded a $200 savings bond and Britannica’s The Elements hardcover book.
“I wrote my paper on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and how a lot of people don’t like them, but they are easier for farmers to grow, they often taste better, and how it might even be the future of food,” explained Malik. His teacher, Meredith Philbin remarked, “When Malik told me he wanted to research genetically modified organisms from a sensory analysis point of view, I was floored. This is a complicated, non-obvious research question."
Harlem Academy is unique in its emphasis on non-fiction reading and writing in science. “Reading and writing are traditionally relegated only to humanities classes, but these skills are critical for students as they advance in the sciences. We’ve made an intentional decision to emphasize these skills throughout our science curriculum – and Malik’s performance is a strong demonstration of how it is paying off,” explains head of school Vincent Dotoli.
The school’s innovative eighth-grade applied science program provides an in-depth, practical exploration of science-related careers. During the year, students dive into four units: emergency medicine, architecture, writing a scientific research paper, and physics and engineering. Malik’s submission to the DuPont Challenge was developed during the 5-week research unit.
“Malik’s success underscores how Harlem Academy’s program inspires students to pursue science, and positions them with the skills, knowledge, and confidence they need to excel,” said Meredith.
Malik just started this fall at Friends Seminary, where he hopes to continue studying biology.
Special thanks to the Harry Winston Hope Foundation, lead sponsor of Harlem Academy’s middle school science program.
Thank you to Con Edison for their ongoing support of our students' science and technology education.