JMS student Zack Wood in front of his Science Fair presentation.
Thousands of middle schoolers across the country will participate in school science fairs this year, inspiring many of them to pursue advanced studies and careers in the sciences. Research by the National Science Foundation and Educational Development Center suggests that science fairs, “provide students with an opportunity to investigate interesting questions, work independently, and engage in what we think of as authentic science experiences. These experiences are critical for engaging students in STEM and potentially inspiring them to pursue STEM careers down the road,” (EDC: Putting Science Fairs to the Test). At the Jewish Middle School, this year’s science fair has been an opportunity for students to pursue an advanced understanding of their chosen area of research.
JMS faculty encouraged students to think about what interests them and pursue projects based on those interests. Choosing their own research projects turned into a unique moment of self- awareness for students. As part of their project, students had to design an experiment, write a research paper, design a visual component presenting their findings, and include an infographic depicting all mathematics used in their experiment. Some of the projects that will be presented range from topics like The Chemistry of Chocolate to The Myth of Memory and everything in between.
Zach Wood, an eighth grader, was interested in the timely question of how isolation affects the brain. After researching both the positive and negative effects that isolation can have on a person’s brain development, Zach surmised that throughout history mankind has always championed intentional interaction with others. As a result, remaining isolated and alone goes against our very nature and can cause negative effects on mental health and wellbeing.
At the other end of the science spectrum, Thomas Bishop directed his interest in athletics to create an experiment aimed at assessing various skateboard stunts and determining which one would produce the highest average maximum height. Performing his own experimental stunts, Thomas collected data on different ollies, a skateboarding trick where the rider and board jump into the air without using their hands. Thomas studied the physics of an ollie and recorded average heights on flat ground and rolling ground jumps before determining that a rolling ollie produces a higher average maximum height than a flat ollie.
This year’s JMS Science Fair was designed to encourage student engagement with the sciences, and cultivate skills essential for science literacy, all while letting students pursue their interests and have some fun!