Kennedy’s David Frank Places Second at LI Psychology Fair

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Kennedy High School sophomore David Frank performed some magic at the Long Island Psychology Fair and a second-place award was in the cards for him.

Held at Roslyn High School on Jan. 11, 36 students were invited to present their research to a panel of peer and expert judges in various categories.

Frank’s research, “A Table Magician’s Greatest Trick: Affecting a Patron’s Tipping Habits Without Them Knowing,” earned him an award in the category of social psychology.

Frank explained that he conducts research at his Friday night gig working as a table magician at a local restaurant.

“I wanted to see what I could do to increase the size of my tips and how many people were actually leaving me tips,” Frank said. “So, I started researching and came across the concept of reciprocity.” 

Current research is limited to waiters and waitresses in a restaurant setting that leave candy as a gift.

“I wanted to see if that would generalize into other service contexts using a wider array of gifts,” Frank mentioned.

His initial research found an 80 percent increase in gratuity and the study is ongoing by further randomizing the data.

Senior Amanda Schleider also presented in the category of educational psychology. Her research was “Teaching a Child with Autism Peer-to-Peer Requesting Using iPad Based Speech Generating Device.”

“I got into this because my mom is a speech language pathologist at a school with kids with disabilities and when I visited her at work, I was always fascinated with how they communicate,” Schleider said.

“It’s amazing how much they can learn when taught evidence-based procedures to learn new skills and I wanted to design a study that would teach kids to do this as well,” she continued. 

Schleider completed research at Genesis School in East Meadow. 

“Through my research of reading journal articles, kids with autism are taught communication skills with adults or other peers that are neurotypical,” she added. “I saw a lack of interaction with kids that also have autism.”

Her study focuses on teaching a participant with autism to request to a peer in their class who also has autism. She focused on a social communication aspect, utilizing speech-generating devices that are programmed with various apps.

Both Frank and Schleider are in Kennedy’s Advanced Science Research program, under advisers Orquidea Afonso and Barbara Franklin, respectively.