Glen Cove High School’s Nicole Khaimov got a pleasant surprise when she learned that she had been named one of 300 Scholars in the 2020 Regeneron Science Talent Search, one of the nation’s oldest science competitions for high school seniors. Nearly 2,000 students from more than 600 high schools across the country submitted research projects for consideration, and Khaimov was one of only eight Long Islanders honored for their research, which could solve urgent societal problems.
Khaimov, the valedictorian of the class of 2020, said she was applying for college scholarships when she came across the Regeneron contest. Figuring she had nothing to lose, she entered her Advanced Placement Capstone project, “Emotional Intelligence and Moral Competence Across Age Groups: A Study of Secondary School Students and Teachers.” The project, she explained, aimed to deepen the understanding of how students and teachers differ in emotional intelligence and moral competence. Her research involved interviewing 70 GCHS students and 50 teachers, and she concluded that students actually scored higher in both areas.
“It definitely surprises people when they find out that students placed higher overall than the adults,” Khaimov said. “This was an excellent opportunity to conduct field research, and find that it’s possible to make discoveries that can help your community.”
Evan Goldaper, the high school’s A.P. Capstone teacher, said he was not surprised to hear that the Regeneron contest recognized Khaimov, who was in Goldaper’s first class when he came to the district in 2017. The purpose of the course, he said, is for students to take part in college-level research and writing to prepare them for the real thing. Goldaper lets them choose their topics of research, and although Khaimov’s main interest is computer science, she decided to tackle psychology. She said she was interested in the different ways teens and adults think.
The most difficult part of her project, she said, was diving into the research that had already been done on the topic in an effort to find a way to break new ground. Her research suggests that teachers can benefit from training to enhance their emotional intelligence so they can react effectively to their students’ needs and serve them better as role models.
As Khaimov and his other students worked on their projects, Goldaper said, he found that with more time to focus on their own work, they excelled and grew more interested in it. Hoping to continue improving the A.P. course, Goldaper said he was encouraged that the class was moving in the right direction, as evidenced by Khaimov’s accomplishment.
“It really reflects her level of knowledge and work ethic,” Goldaper said, “and her drive to work hard and excel will get her very far.”
“We’re very proud of Nicole and very interested in her research,” Glen Cove High School Principal Antonio Santana said. “It’s amazing for one of our students to do a project that can impact our schools.”
Khaimov, who was not chosen as a finalist, which was announced on Jan. 22, is focusing on choosing the college that she will attend. Although she has yet to make her decision, she said she is certain that she will study computer science.