News Release

Contact: Carmen Ramos Chandler
(818) 677-2130

Spotlight is on Young Science Wizards at CSUN Symposium

(NORTHRIDGE, Calif., April 29, 2005) -- Your basic Zaniolepis latipinnis--or longspine combfish--will be hard pressed to attract attention in this crowd.

Even the somewhat flashier Rhinobatos productus--a.k.a. shovelnose guitarfish--will have to compete with the likes of the eyeless Pseudosinella violenta for its moment of fame at Cal State Northridge's annual K-12 Student Science Poster Symposium, set for 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 14, in the University Student Union's Grand Salon on the east side of the campus off Zelzah Avenue.

The exotically named creatures, subjects of scientific investigation by K-12 students who have spent many hours researching and conducting experiments for publication in the 2005 Journal of Student Research Abstracts, Vol. X, won't be present to bask in the symposium spotlight. But the students will, nearly 100 of them, from both public and private Southern California schools.

"Some of the work prepared by the students this year is of national level presentation quality," said symposium director Steven Oppenheimer, director of CSUN's Center for Cancer and Developmental Biology. Oppenheimer edits the journal in conjunction with the symposium as an opportunity for the young researchers to break into print.

"They've plunged into their investigations with the fearlessness of youth, asking questions, following the scientific process," he said. "They are the new generation of scientists, and the symposium gives them a head start on their careers."

Open to the public, the event will feature posters detailing the research of the students, who will be available to answer questions about their work on issues as great as the deadliness of strokes or as small as a penny's rust rate in salt or fresh water.

The gut of a mold-eating, leaf litter-loving, eyeless critter called Pseudosinella violenta was an irresistible scientific mystery to student Monique Chavez of Holmes International Middle School in Northridge. Are the innards of the microscopic hexapod, she wondered, acidic or not?

A practical-minded Chatsworth student investigated whether certain brands of gasoline improved gas mileage. A pair of intrepid researchers from La Crescenta collected data from the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and the Aquarium of the Pacific to uncover the truth about captive moon jellies. All these experiments can be examined at the symposium and in the journal.

Working with the Los Angeles Unified School District, symposium co-sponsors are the Improving Teacher Quality State Grant Program, the National Science Foundation, the California Science Project, the Joseph Drown Foundation, and CSUN's Center for Cancer and Developmental Biology, as well as its Department of Biology and the College of Science and Mathematics.

For more information, call Oppenheimer at (818) 677-3336.

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