2012-04-26 / Local & State

DiBenigno Places First At Science Fair


Sofia DiBenigno with her first-place science project Sofia DiBenigno with her first-place science project Bishop O’Connell junior Sofia DiBenigno was awarded first place in the Behavioral Science category at the 2012 Virginia State Science and Engineering Fair held in April at Old Dominion University in Norfolk. Her project, entitled “The Effect of Subliminal Messaging on Survey Responses,” qualified for the state competition by placing first in the same category at the Northern Virginia Regional Science Fair held at Wakefield High School in Arlington earlier this year. At that time, DiBenigno also received recognition from several organizations, including the Office of Naval Research, the American Psychological Association and the CIA.

DiBenigno designed and developed a short animated video that served as the basis for her project. Using freeware to animate her cartoon, she embedded one version of the video with a split second image of a candy bar. This image appeared on screen six times for just over onetenth of a second each time. After surveying more than 200 subjects using a carefully developed questionnaire, she was able to report statiscally significant variations in her subjects’ responses.

“The state competition was an incredible experience on so many different levels,” said DiBenigno. “The opportunity to discuss my experiment with a wide range of professionals has allowed me to consider good options for following upon this project next year.”

Science Department Chair Doreen Curtin served as DiBenigno’s mentor. “It is a great honor for Sofia to win first place at the state level,” she said. “Her project was well designed and her careful analysis of the data was clearly evident to the judges. I’m looking forward to what she will do next.”

DiBenigno was also inducted into the National Honor Society.

She is the daughter of Giuseppe DiBenigno and Tammy “Henry” DiBenigno of Great Falls, Va. She is the granddaughter of Homer and Judith Henry Ansell and the late Edgar “Skip” Henry Sr.

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