Upper School Scientists present, participate in Science Fair
New to the Science Fair format this year were three "Citizen Science" experiences organized by the science department. These opportunities allowed all Upper School students to choose one of three projects to participate in, one with very local implications and two on a national scale. The entire campus was bustling with activity as students set their eyes skyward to collect atmospheric data, got their hands dirty making sourdough starters and measuring characteristics like height and aroma, or surveyed classroom book collections to look for measurable markers of diversity in literature in close to 500 books.
"Our Citizen Science experiences are about seeing what it's like to be a scientist and to collect data. Whether or not they were participating in science fair, we wanted students to get the chance to collect data and follow a protocol. They participated in data collection that would actually make an impact on global studies that are going on. This is a really powerful thing to do in science," observed Dr. Fisch in between identifying clouds for NASA with some fellow citizen scientists.
Meanwhile, in one of three buzzing hubs, US2 and US3 students presented their experiments to family, faculty, staff, and students in both divisions. Though the projects ranged in content from finding the best plant for your home aquarium to gender bias to climate change, the core value of discovery was well represented in every corner. So was resilience, it turned out.
"This was pretty stressful," noted Solomon L. in US2. "We had a lot going on, big tests and things. But in the end, I feel like I'm more interested in science now having done a big experiment like this, and now having done this, I know a little bit better how to approach it in the future."
Fellow scientist Johnny L. (US2), with whom Solomon investigated taste and texture in gluten free products, agreed. "I thought this was a very fun subject and it was interesting to do tests with human subjects."
"We liked that it had the possibility of helping a large group of people — 89 million people worldwide are affected by Celiac Disease," Solomon added.
Across the room, a trio of scientists stood watching as a subject cautiously bit into a breakfast sandwich. "It's vegan!" revealed Dennet S., who along with Sienna F. and Samaya S-M. (all US2) investigated how people reacted to learning the facts about their food. Their project, titled "Do you care about the food or the facts?", revealed that Mirman students indeed did respond to intellectual appeals rather than emotional when it came to hamburgers and health.
"I'm skeptical of vegan cheese, but this is pretty good," admitted Choir Director Ashley Ramsey.
True to form, the students also became teachers that day. When asked what interesting things she had learned, LS/US Science Teacher Stephanie Braun easily recalled a memorable lesson from Brandon M. and Charles A. (both US2). "I learned that we really should be cleaning our laptops more," she said. "There's a lot of bacteria and viruses in there. But beyond that, I'm so impressed with the students' ability to present their findings."
Lower School Science Teacher Paige Moyer seemed flabbergasted by her unexpected discovery courtesy of Vivien E. and Meghan Y. (both US3): "Bubblegum toothpaste worked the best to clean teeth?!" Meanwhile, first grader Tony G.-A. took his learnings in stride. "I was interested to hear more about gender stereotypes, and I learned that they aren't true."
Congratulations to all of our citizen scientists and Science Fair participants!