A Cherry Avenue Elementary School student took top honors in the first-ever virtual version of the annual Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) Elementary School Science Fair, Sayville schools reported.

Fifth grader Reilly Riviello’s project “What Material is the Best to Protect Your Property from Flash Flooding” took first place for her grade level at her school. Her project was then submitted to represent Cherry Avenue at the BNL fair.

Students in kindergarten to grade 6 from 38 elementary schools across Suffolk County entered science and engineering projects for the competition.

The district said Reilly chose her topic because climate change has created more flash floods and storm surges than ever before.

“This results in billions and billions of dollar’s worth of damage,” Reilly said. “The objective [of my experiment] was to determine what materials work best in ‘sandbags’ to prevent property damage.”

Reilly researched her topic and completed multiple trials comparing water leakage, at different intervals, when sand bags are filled with sand, gravel, mulch or dirt, the district said. Reilly hypothesized that sand would be the most effective material to use because “the sand particles are packed tighter and closer together.”

She determined that “sand was the best defensive barrier for protecting … property the best from flash floods.”

Reilly’s teacher Elizabeth Denton said, “Throughout the entire process, Reilly was enthusiastic about her topic and her project.”

“She was diligent, thorough, responsible, and most importantly, excited throughout the three-month process,” she continued. “I am so thrilled that her project was able to be submitted virtually to BNL after all of her hard work and dedication.”