Lawrence Students Invited to Present Original Research in Beantown!
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Friday, March 03, 2017
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Lawrence Students Invited to Present Original Research in Beantown!

Three Lawrence students (senior Emma Balsam and the dynamic duo of freshman Bhawan Sandhu & junior Alicia Etwaru) submitted behavioral research they have been working on for months, or even years, to blind judging committees comprised of 3 university professors in mid-January. Both projects have now been selected to present from among a pool of applicants that included undergraduates, grad students and post-doctoral researchers from around the nation and several foreign countries at the 29th Annual Association for Psychological Science Convention in Boston Memorial Day Weekend. The acceptance rate ranged from 40-70% depending on APS Division (Educational, Developmental, Social, etc.). Presenting posters at the convention is an honor typically reserved for undergraduate and graduate students. We at Lawrence have be come spoiled by how seemingly routine these annual invitations of our teenagers have become. The notion that a ninth grader would be invited, based on a blind-reading of her outstanding work, is almost unthinkable.

Significantly, for both Emma and Bhawan, hands-on research in the social sciences is something of a family tradition. (Alicia, on the other hand, is a relative newcomer.) Both of Emma's older sisters - Jordana and Sheri - submitted outstanding Intel Science Talent Search projects. Sheri is currently completing her doctoral studies in psychology at Rutgers University; Jordana is in Law School.  Bhawan is the second member of the Balsam clan to complete a research project with Dr. Stephen Sullivan. Gunveet, now a sophomore engineering student at Stony Brook University, was a two-time winner in the Long Island History Day Fair. Apparently, hands-on research in behavioral science trains our students to excel in all walks of life.

Mentored by Dr. Stephen Sullivan, the 2016-17 student research is ground-breaking. Working closely with researchers at Macalester College in St. Paul MN, Emma is the first scholar to apply Carolyn Dweck's growth mindset paradigm to mental health variables rather than intelligence measures in an adolescent sample population.  Bhawan and Alicia studied the differences in recall associated with taking modalities. As predicted, teens who took noted long-hand performed significantly better on a recall post-test than did teens who took notes on a laptop computer.

In Boston, the girls will not only present their research, but also attend a number of wonderful symposia. Sessions will offer new insights for the students and continuing education opportunities for chaperones. This will be the seventh consecutive year Lawrence students have been invited to present original research at one or both of the two major international psychology conferences - the American Psychological Convention and/or the Association for Psychological Convention. Only one other high school in the country can boast as many as five student presenters - ever. 


Emma Balsam (Grade 12) 

"Anxiety Mindsets in Adolescents"

Faculty Advisor: Stephen J. Sullivan, Ph.D. (Lawrence High School)

University Mentor(s): Jaine Strauss, Ph.D. (Macalester College)

                             Jillian Merrick, M.S. (University of Minnesota)


Bhawan Sandhu (Grade 9) & Alicia Etwaru (Grade 11)

"Advantages of Hand-Written Note-Taking vs. Laptop Use in a Youth Sample"

Faculty Advisor: Stephen J. Sullivan, Ph.D. (Lawrence High School)


Pictured from left to right:  Dr. Lagnado, LHS Principal......Emma Balsam.....Alicia Etwaru.....Bhawan Sandhu.....Dr. Sullivan, LHS Social Science Research Teacher

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