Sayville fourth grader takes first place in BNL’s virtual science fair


Unwanted noise.

Sunrise Drive Elementary School fourth-grader Matthew Mercorella knew all about it. And now — for helping the world know a little bit more about it — he has earned first place in his grade level at Brookhaven National Laboratory’s annual Elementary School Science Fair.

Matthew’s “Shhhh… I Can’t Hear” project was inspired by his time at school during the pandemic, when two classes shared space in the school gym and were only separated by a divider. It was a noise-control problem shared by many children across Long Island and the country when schools reopened with COVID-19 social-distancing restrictions.

“The purpose of this experiment is to find out the best material to block out unwanted noise,” Matthew said in his project. “I will compare which material has the best results to block out unwanted noise.”

Matthew explained that “there are times that I am able to hear what is going on in the other classroom space.”

“I designed this experiment to test some materials to find out what would be a better solution to block out the unwanted noise,” he added.

Seven Suffolk County students earned first place in their grade level for stand-out experiments in the virtual competition.

Volunteer judges considered a total of 184 science projects by students in kindergarten through sixth grade. Students qualify for Brookhaven National Laboratory’s competition by winning science fairs held by their schools.

(Left to right) Sunrise Drive Principal James Foy, fourth-grader Matthew Mercorella and Sayville Board of Education Vice President Carl Cangelosi.