Silver Chips Online

Blair holds first annual Science Research Conference

Freshman and juniors answer research questions

By Bridget Egan, Online Art Editor
February 3, 2006
The freshman Honors Physics classes and the Science Research Methods class held their first annual Science Research Conference and "I Wonder" symposium to publicly display their knowledge and comprehension of their research topics on Feb. 2 at Blair.

"I think it's really important to get the kids to show their work to people," said Caitlin Sullivan, an Honors Physics teacher.

Visiting scientists at the conference gave advice to the students on how to improve the research and inquiry of their topic. Twenty-four scientists were scheduled to attend the conference to provide postive advice for the students.

"I'm here because I like to interact with students and listen to their research projects and give constructive criticism," said Dr. William Sandberg, a physicist who attended the event.

Students from Daniel Levin's Research Methods class presented their research projects in half hour segments. Their assignment was to write a research proposal and begin researching their goal or topic of their choice.

The freshmen Honors Physics students sought to answer various research questions such as, "Are birthmarks hereditary?" and "How do underwater explosives work?" According to Sullivan, the students have been working on the project since the beginning of the year.

According to Sullivan, the students were instructed to keep a journal of any questions that they had and then choose a question to study in depth. Many students, like freshman Solena Laigle, chose to research an everyday topic that people do not know a lot about. Laigle examined the strength of sunscreen products and their chemical components because of the rising number of people who have skin cancer from sun tanning. During her research she learned that fake tanners have various chemicals in common with sunscreen and that the main ingredient in all sunscreens is water.

Other students, like freshman Caitlin O'Donnel, selected to research how an object functions. She chose to focus on how fire alarms work. "They're really important, but nobody knows how they work," O'Donnel said.

Other students chose more abstract topics. Freshman Adam Jackson created a miniature theater and studied the path of a falling chandelier, deriving the idea from "The Phantom of the Opera." After conducting his field research Jackson found that additional research was still necessary. According to Jackson, finishing his project just "told me that there are a lot more questions to be answered."

According to Sullivan, it was the first year that the Science Research Conference was held, though in the past students gave conducted research on an "I wonder" topic. She plans to hold another conference next year with the new students. "It's incredible to see all the kids with their projects, they're really excited," Sullivan added.

Though Sullivan herself did not research a topic, she had given a potential topic thought. "I'd probably do the physics of flag twirling," Sullivan said.

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/6183