Last year, as a freshman, Delgado received a gold medal in Environmental Science. This year, he went all the way to the top, the first student in Bayonne since the founding of the fair 1959 to go onto the international competition slated for May.
The Hudson County fair was held at the Jersey City Armory on March 20th and Delgado was among 461 students participating from around Hudson County, where budding young scientists compete in categories ranging from Behavioral Science to Gerontology where 92 scientists judged their efforts.
Each year students compete to win in their category then go on to compete for two top prizes that will make the eligible to compete in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in May. Delgado, who Delgado received the Liberty Science Center Partners in Science Award, and a gold medal recipient in the Medicine and Health category, shared the top honor with Aleksandr Arkhipov, a senior at McNair Academic High School in Jersey City, and will go to Indianapolis, Indiana where he will compete with 1,200 students from 40 nations for scholarships, tuition grants, internships, scientific field trips and the grand prize - a trip to attend the Nobel Prize Ceremonies in Stockholm, Sweden.
Robert Dawson, director of Science for Bayonne. said the competition at the science fair is at an extremely high level, creating stiff competition for the prize.
In fact, Delgado's project went through several competitions to achieve top honors, undergoing an initial competition within his area of medicine and health. The fair had 14 areas of competition. His presentation resulted in his winning his category. Then his project went through a second judging that resulted in his sharing the fair's top prize.
This was no fluke
Delgado's winning Hudson County Science Fair wasn't something he threw together last minute, but the product of a summer internship at the Liberty Science Center with Dr. Fang Lau where among the projects Delgado worked on involved seeking a link between calcium effects on diseases of the brain in an effort to develop novel treatments.
His research demonstrated how the death rate of cells that lead to diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's could be slowed by the introduction of certain chemicals.
The summer internship was like a full time job, keeping him busy from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. five days a week, during which time he did two studies - one of which helped him win the science fair prize.
In explaining his conclusions, Delgado said that the ebb and flow of calcium ions that sends message between various parts of a cell help to control the cell's basic life functions, such as receiving nutrients, expelling waste and preparing to divides to create new cells.
But sometimes, the part of the cell sending the message does not get a reply and so continues to send, and the calcium ion levels rise causing damage to parts of the cell - resulting in a message for the cell to die.
His project used three different chemicals to try to recreate the pathway for the interrupted messages, thus preventing the damage and death, and to see which one best mimics the messages that normally came from a calcium ion.
"I learned a lot about lab skills," he said and claimed the internship had given him access to knowledge he would not have had. Although he has not yet determined his exact career path, he said he will go into the area of medicine.
Marie Aloi, science teacher at Bayonne High School, said she knew Delgado was very good, but his winning the science fair surprised even her.
Yet his return to the class room from the summer internship brought with him a knowledge of science and lab that he shared with others in the class.
"My background is in chemistry and physics, not biology," she said. "He helped bring biology into the class room."