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Byram Hills Student Lucy Greenwald Wins Award For Science Research

Lucy Greenwald, an Armonk senior, won an Acorda Scientific Excellence Award.
Lucy Greenwald, an Armonk senior, won an Acorda Scientific Excellence Award. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Lucy Greenwald

ARMONK, N.Y. -- Byram Hills senior Lucy Greenwald wanted to see the most effective way to educate teens about the dangers of texting while driving.

Greenwald was given the Acorda Scientific Excellence Award for conducting neuromarketing research to determine whether the graphic nature of a public service announcement about texting while driving had any impact on its effectiveness.

Greenwald used an electroencephalogram  to track and record subjects’ brain activation while watching both graphic and non-graphic PSAs, then administered a follow up survey 10-12 days later to compare recall of the PSAs and measure self-reported deterrence from texting while driving.

In her findings, Greenwald saw  there were significant changes in attention scores before and after graphic moments in the PSAs and that graphic PSAs proved to have more of an impact.

Greenwald originally was studying neuromarketing of commercials, but decided to switch halfway through to exploring the texting-while-driving PSA.

"I chose to do texting-while-driving PSAs because I thought it was a very relevant topic in this day and age, and is likely to affect many people throughout my and my peers' lifetimes," Greenwald said. "People don't realize the danger that they are exposed to just by getting in the car, and that is what makes it so scary."

The senior said she has seen first hand people using their phone while driving, even though she has never texted while driving.

"My family and I always see other drivers talking on their phone or looking away from the road to text," Greenwald said. "It is a problem that needs to be addressed."

Greenwald said she hopes to study science at Duke University and worked with a mentor from the school.

"I love science, and especially biology, because it helps the world make sense in a very factual way," Greenwald said. "Research helps to answer questions that only a very curious mind would ask."

Greenwald said emotional PSAs also had an impact along with PSAs with graphic imagery.

"I think it would be most effective to create PSAs with both graphic and non-graphic imagery so that the PSA can be as effective as possible," Greenwald said.

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