The SoftMatterTheory group of Department of Physics and Astronomy of Tufts University, led by Timothy J. Atherton accompanied by Mathew Giso and  Zhaoyu Xie, went to Somerville High School to help judge the projects of the annual Science and Engineering Fair on a lovely morning of March 1, 2018. We spent a wonderful time talking with high school students and were impressed by the quality of projects.

Timothy Atherton(left), Zhaoyu Xie(middle), Mathew Giso(right) at Somerville High School

The Science and Engineering Fair is hosted by Somerville High School Science Department annually. Students in grades 9–12 spend several weeks, and in some cases several months, researching one topic and following the scientific method and/or engineering design process to investigate one question deeply. This year’s fair is also a prequalification for the 2018 Massachusetts Region IV Science Fair, based on the judging. It’s a goal of our group that encouraging underrepresented minority students to pursue science degree. Hence we were willing to help judge this event.

The fair contained projects from physics, engineering, chemistry and biology. We spent almost all the time judging those from physics and engineering. The students in Somerville High School did a really good job presenting their work and their projects were really interesting. Some students applied physics to sports like running and skiing, trying to find the most efficient form. Some students investigated the concepts from textbooks, such as speed of sound, tension and frequency of spring, and black holes. Some students contributed to industry area, like materials to substitute plastic, solar panel efficiency and neural network algorithm to recognize hand-written digits. By talking with these students, we felt their enthusiasm to science. Although some projects just got a preliminary result and the approach of their research wasn’t very rigorous, the students enjoyed doing research to solve the problems they were interested in. We saw the potential of the students to become excellent next-generation scientists.

Overall, this experience was really great. The students did an amazing job and we enjoyed talking with them. In the future, we hope to gain more close cooperation with Somerville High School.


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