H-ton Science Research Duo Visits Brookhaven Lab

Two Huntington High School students visited Brookhaven National Lab to meet with officials there

October 18, 2016

Sam Prinzi and Steve Yeh are just brimming with ideas, especially when it comes to Huntington High School’s science research program, of which the two seniors are veterans.

Mr. Prinzi recently took his idea for a radio frequency drive to Brookhaven National Laboratory for a so-called “sanity check” by one of the top officials at the fabled institution. The drive, also known as an RF resonant cavity thruster is theorized to produce thrust with no fuel, violating the known laws of physics.

The two teenagers have been working closely for many years with teacher Lori Kenny, who heads the high school’s science research program. It wasn’t a coincidence that they were accompanied to BNL by science teacher Judy Pazienza

“I am not a research teacher this year, but Lori asked me to mentor Sam because his research project involved a complicated RF thruster and I was an RF engineer for 20 years,” Ms. Pazienza said.

The Huntington team got to see some cool stuff at Brookhaven National Lab.

Ms. Pazienza reviewed Mr. Prinzi’s idea and then did some research of her own, trying to ascertain if it is more fiction than fact or too dangerous due to the high doses of radiation involved. She then contacted BNL. “The engineers over there were thrilled to talk to Sam about more projects and they showed us all the cool things they are doing.”

One of the top students in Huntington’s Class of 2017, Mr. Yeh is also interested in math and physics and he asked if he could come along on the trip. Ms. Pazienza welcomed him to the traveling party.

BNL staff members were excited to speak with two students so interested in science and they gave the Huntington team a tour they will always remember.

Kevin Smith, who heads BNL’s RF engineering department was happy to discuss the lab’s RF projects with Messrs. Prinzi and Yeh.

Since Mr. Yeh has an especially strong interest in math, Mr. Smith discussed how that academic discipline is integral to the analysis of particle collisions. The senior said he was “very impressed with the algorithm that creates the sine wave to run the super conducting magnets that maintain the particle beam’s cohesion.”

Mr. Smith also discussed how RF engineering is used to control all aspects of smashing gold particles together for BNL physicists to analyze.

“Standing in the control room of the accelerator and watching the screens was very impressive, but the students were in awe when Kirsten Angelika Drees, a theoretical physicist took them to see the inside of one of the detectors,” Ms. Pazienza said.

“Ms. Drees was on her way to lunch when she noticed us and was so excited to see young people interested in the collider that she stopped to give Sam and Steve a complete tour, even allowing them to climb a ladder to look down the center of the collider,” Ms. Pazienza said. As Mr. Prinzi stepped back from the opening he said it was “awesome” to see a particle accelerator from close range.

Aleida Perez from BNL’s Office of Educational Programs was on hand to discuss summer programs and internship opportunities for students ranging from first grade through graduate school. The lab even offers professional development workshops for teachers.

Feeling right at home, Mr. Yeh pointed out that he had previously visited BNL to participate in the National Science Bowl competition, which his hosted by the lab, along with several other contests.

Although Mr. Prinzi’s idea for a reactionless drive may be fiction right now, Mr. Smith told the Huntington senior to “never shy away from challenges. You need to be skeptical, but thinking outside the box is a crucial skill for anyone who wants to be good at science.”

Interested in opportunities at BNL? Visit . Interested in Huntington’s science research program? Contact Mrs. Kenny at [email protected].

Physicist Kirsten Angelika Drees with Steve Yeh and Sam Prinzi.
Sam Prinzi, Kirsten Drees, Steve Yeh and Judy Pazienza at Brookhaven Lab.
Steve Yeh and Sam Prinzi with Brookhaven National Lab officials.