RUMSON, NJ -- Drs. Stephen and Margaret Ann Chappell, founders of the Stars Challenge science enrichment programs for middle-school students, announced the winning teams of the annual Stars Challenge Science Competition, held this year at Monmouth University. The event was sponsored by Telecordia Technologies in Piscataway.  Approximately 70 students comprising 17 teams participated this year.

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Mother Teresa Regional School team

First place and $1000 went to Mother Teresa Regional School in Atlantic Highlands for dealing with the “Reduction of Heat in the Classrooms.” Using four test rooms in their study, they covered the windows with various materials including aluminum foil and other materials that tinted the windows. They determined that the film that blocked 95% of the light made the rooms the coolest.

The largest group of young scientists represented Hope Academy Charter School of Asbury Park which took second place in the competition. Teacher Ann Marie McCarthy and students Zyeira Mallory, Moesha Howard and Calvin Carter explained their school community project, “Welcome to Batsbury Park,” which deals with problems of increased presence of bugs and mosquitoes. "Asbury Park lost buildings to urban redevelopment where bats used to live. Bats eat the insects. So our kids thought if we could re-create a habitat that would bring bats back, they could reduce the insect population,"  McCarthy explained.

Third place went to HW Mountz in Spring Lake. "They were having conflicts on the playground because the fifth through eighth graders all had lunch and recess together and the little kids would bother the big kids," said Stephen Chappell. "So they tried having the fifth and sixth graders eat lunch while the seventh and eighth graders were at recess then reversed them.  They took opinion surveys and scientifically analyzed the results."

The Originality and Creativity award, presented by Beta Beta Beta, the Monmouth University Biology Honor Society, went to Ocean Township Intermediate School for the team's design of a football helmet that mimicked the head of a woodpecker. Team member Matthew Iancilli explained "Bio-mimicry made us think how a woodpecker takes a lot of head pounding so we wanted to design a football helmet with layers like its head." Teammate Emily Nelson added, "We sent questionnaires to football players."

Honorable Mentions went to both Markham Place in Little Silver and Solomon Schechter in Marlboro.

For more information, visit starschallenge.org, or call Stephen Chappell at 732-530-1061 or Margaret Ann Chappell at 732-859-4730.