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2024 NJ STEM Month Initiative

NJAS Colloquium for LIFE (Leadership, Innovation, Fellowship, and Excellence) in STEM


This virtual colloquium is an initiative of the NJ Academy of Science that aims at empowering middle school and high school students' perspectives on diverse scientific themes. The focus is to cultivate an interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) or health sciences by providing a space for students to showcase their expository writing, art, topical presentation, or research initiative to our scientific community.

NJAS is giving our youth a voice, as stated by Dr. Brion-Meisels, “listening to young people doesn’t mean unilaterally considering their perspective, it means recognizing that young people have a perspective on the world that adults can’t share, and that their perspective should be welcomed alongside the wisdom that adult perspectives bring.” For this reason, NJAS is excited to invite students from NJ to showcase their work at this colloquium.

The colloquium is meant to raise a discussion regarding scientific cutting-edge topics and enhance STEM awareness by enhancing delivery of diverse scientific media styles. All (novice or expert) presenters  are welcome to present or showcase their scientific piece and gain feedback from the NJ Academy of Science community. 

This NJ Academy of Science initiative is meant to build a support medium for students to establish relationships with their peers, teachers, NJAS community and people in their potential career field who can provide great support, friendship and growth. It can lead to professional relationships in their future. 


Middle School/ High School students. Please go to the   LINK to submit your presentation information. Make sure to sign the  NJAS photo release form.

Due February 16, 2024

Your presentation should follow any of these four themes: 

  1. Scientific Topical Review - is a critical account of what has been published on a topic by accredited researchers. - More information

  2. Scientific Research presentation - The presentation should include: a short intro, your hypotheses, a brief description of the methods, tables and/or graphs related to your findings, and an interpretation of your data. The presentations should be no more than 10 minutes long   More information

  3. Scientific Art Writing - Creativity is crucial to the capacity to do science well, to communicate it in compelling ways, and to enhance learning. For this reason, students may showcase any poems or writing pieces that focus on science.Scientific literature for Art writing importance  

  4. Art Showcase - This year NJ Academy of science will ignite the visual power of artwork  in our scientific community. All students' art forms ranging from drawing, painting to origami and 3D printing are welcome. AAAS similar initiative.

Please contact Dr. Kiruthika Balasubramanian for any questions regarding your submission, only eight students/teams will be selected this year.

Submissions:  Due February 16, 204

Presenter/Guest Registration to event:  General Admission Registration link

  • Teachers, parents/guardians, family members, scientists, student peers, are welcome to register).
  • The registration is free and it is in a virtual format. 

Event Date:     March 15 and March 22, 2024

 2 day event

Day 1 - Keynote Seminar

March 15 from 6  pm to 8 pm

Day 2 - Student Presentations

March 22 from 6 pm to 8 pm


Students will receive a certificate from the NJ academy of Science and presenters will be introduced as the 2nd class of LIFE inductees. Student presenting will received a one year subscription to NJAS.


Day 1 - Keynote Speaker Seminar

6:00 p.m. - 6:05 p.m. – Opening Remarks - Dr. John Wnek

                                      Moderator: Dr. Kiruthika Balasubramanian

6:05 p.m. - 6:40 p.m. –   Session 1 -  Dr. John Wnek - MATES and Project Terrapin 

Presentation Title:  "Why did the turtle cross the road? - How current actions are impacting a local turtle species"

6:40 p.m. - 6:50 p.m. –   Break

6:45 p.m. - 7:20 p.m. –   Session 2 -  Ms. Tanya Sulikowski - NJ School of Conservation

Presentation Title:  "A Bug's Life. Lessons we can learn about our environment from some very tiny critters."

7:25 p.m. - 8:10 p.m. –  Student Presentations

Ms. Mahika Jawa

STEMpowering Kids Showcase

Holmdel High School

Holmdel Township, NJ

Ms. Divya Krishna

Utilizing AI Algorithms to Classify Space Debris 

Edison High School, 

Edison, NJ

Mr. Gunawan, Kezia

Ultra S ensitive Magnetic Trap Tiltmeter For Volcano Monitoring

Westwood Regional HS,

Township of Washington, NJ

M s. Eesha Vanamala

NocTurn Insight

Brooklawn Middle School

Parsippany-Troy Hills, NJ

8:20 p.m. – Closing remarks - Dr. Kiruthika Balasubramanian

Day 2 - Student Presentations

6:00 p.m. - 6:05 p.m. - Welcome  =  Dr. Kiruthika Balasubramanian

       Moderator: Ms. Donna Leonardi

6:05 p.m. - 8:45 p.m. – Student Presentations


Aurelia Vibhaw Bhardwaj

Mystery of chemistry

James Monroe Elementary School - Edison, NJ

Sanvishree Chandran & Sreshta Kolla

An Experiment to Study Osmosis, using Gummy Bears.

John Marshall Elementary School - Edison, NJ

Middle School

Sai Hasini Chandran

Waste Management

Thomas Jefferson Middle School

Edison, NJ

Akanksha Narayan

Comparative Study between 2 Cooling Mechanisms

Thomas Jefferson Middle School

Edison, NJ

Sanvi Alapati

Digestive system

Woodrow Wilson Middle School

Edison, NJ

Shravani Pawar

Screen time: The new sleep disruptor

Ramapo Ridge Middle School

Mahwah, NJ

Sophia Park

A Study of Materials for O ptimal Combinations of Thermal and Sound-blocking Performance

East Brook Middle School

Paramus, NJ

High School

Yashvi Rateshwar

Music mood and memory

Bergen County Academies,

Hackensack, NJ

Maggie Kelleher

Employing Woodpecker Cranial Adaptations in a Novel Helmet Design for Increased Impact Protection

Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science

Manahawkin, NJ

Aditya Trivedi

The Utilization of Nanoparticles in the Treatment of Type 1 Diabetes

John P. Stevens High School,

Edison, NJ

Sylvie Yao

The Effects of Knowledge of the Monte Carlo Tree algorithm and One’s Ability to do quick math on Backgammon

Dwight-Englewood High School

Englewood, NJ

8:00 p.m. – Closing remarks 

Volunteer for LIFE

Do your students need volunteer hours? Volunteers are needed for LIFE, a colloquium for middle and high school students.  Volunteers can assist with a variety of tasks including helping with the workshops, participant registration, and helping students navigate the virtual platform. 

This year the event will take place Friday, March 15th & 22th from 6 to 8 pm in a virtual manner (Zoom).

Sponsor LIFE

We are accepting sponsorships for this event. Thank you to our sponsors for making this event FREE for middle and high school students! 

To continue making an impact on the middle and high school students of our region, NJAS - LIFE initiative needs your support. This colloquium is a prime opportunity to develop interest in the career field your organization works in.  There are no minimum sponsorship requirements for this conference.  Companies and organizations can provide a monetary donation in any amount they are comfortable with or donate door prizes for the students who attend. All sponsors are recognized on marketing materials, including the website, conference packets, and on-site signage.

What do sponsorships pay for? Sponsorships help keep our registration costs minimal so that more students (from disadvantaged communities) can participate in this event, assist in covering prize expenses and as well as cover meal costs (for live events).

Become a Sponsor Make a Donation - Donate

Event Contacts

Maria Agapito, PhD -  NJAS President



Kiruthika Balasubramanian, Ph.D - NJAS Executive Secretary


Donna Leonardi, MS - NJAS Newsletter Editor



John Wnek, PhD

Dr. John Wnek is supervisor of science and research at the Marine Academy of Technology and

Environmental Science (MATES), NJ, and an adjunct faculty member at both Kean and Stockton

Universities. John serves as a co-chair of the Save Barnegat Bay Student Grant Program and is a

student research project coordinator.  He is also a co-Principal Investigator of the Barnegat Bay

Diamondback Terrapin research project at Barnegat Bay, where he studies the nesting ecology of

diamondback terrapin. John is a co-chair of the Diamondback Terrapin Working Group, a national

initiative to promote terrapin conservation, research and education.  John has several publications

centered around terrapin nesting ecology, local terrapin populations, and coastal dune ecosystems. 

He has written several lessons incorporating the Barnegat Bay Watershed as a theme, and he has

written curricula that focuses on Barnegat Bay in oceanography, aquatic ecology, and environmental

science.  He is also working on projects to remove derelict fishing gear from Barnegat Bay waters and

determining the effectiveness of bycatch reduction devices on blue crab traps.

Ms. Tanya Sulikowski

Tanya Sulikowski is currently the Director of Education at the New Jersey School of Conservation in the heart of Stokes State Forest. Tanya trained as a field ecologist and has worked with a variety of species throughout her career. Her favorites are the often-less-loved bats, rattlesnakes and bugs. Benthic macroinvertebrates (tiny bugs that live in stream bottoms) were the focus of Tanya’s Master’s Thesis research and are still a passion of hers today. She’s also taught middle and high school science and has used hands-on knowledge of ecology to bring science lessons to life for students. Her experiences in the forest and the classroom demonstrated what a powerful teacher nature can be.

In 2017, Tanya was selected as a Grosvenor Teaching Fellow by National Geographic. Her relationship with National Geographic has resulted in several grants to help educators learn to teach about biodiversity in their classrooms and her most recent award focuses on a new initiative called “MacroBlitz”. MacroBlitz will inspire and empower people to find and photograph aquatic macroinvertebrates and share them though a citizen science app called iNaturalist for science and for learning. Her keynote for the NJAS Seminar will share more about why this is so important.

In Tanya’s off time, she lives what she teaches. She’s an avid native plant and organic vegetable gardener and loves to hike, paddle, and explore the planet’s wildest places.


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