The Upper School Science Fair was back in the gymnasium this year after a two-year pause. Upper school students in Honors Biology, Honors Chemistry, Honors Physics, and the ASPIRE program participated in two sessions held on May 12 to present their research to peers, faculty, family, and special guests.
“I love mentoring science fair projects for beginning students. Their excitement for trying new things is always refreshing. My favorite moments are when they shift from fear and nervousness about doing something new to excited and confident after they get results and realize it’s not that hard, and then they’ve learned a new skill,” said Director of Science Research Victoria Schulman.
Due to remote learning, many of the participants in this year’s science fair have not been able to engage in the usual amount of hands-on research experiences over the past two years. Schulman referred to this year as a rebuilding year. “The students are resilient, and they have persevered through this process despite having to pave their own way at times. I’m really proud of their work,” she said.
A wide range of research topics were on display at the fair. Students are encouraged to choose topics that personally interest them.
Grant Dietz ’24, who interned with Soundwaters this year, used his internship experience to study how climate change affects zooplankton in the Stamford Harbor, thus affecting other ecosystems. “Not only is global warming a large issue having to do with the health of an ecosystem, but pollution, specifically the large quantities of microplastics in the water, is an issue as well,” said Grant about his findings.
“Microplastic was found in some of the zooplankton that I collected, and when larger animals eat the plankton, that plastic can make its way up the food chain until it eventually reaches humans,” Grant said. He hopes to continue his research over an extended period to gather more data points, especially during the varying seasons.
Ryan Wempen ’24 and Johnny Couch ’24 partnered together on their project to test the performance of 3D-printed rockets in a homemade wind tunnel to assess the lift, drag, and stability of different tail wing designs. “We hypothesized that the lift, drag, and stability would also increase proportionally as the fin size increased,” said Johnny.
“Our results indicated that as the surface area of the rocket increases, there will be a relatively linear increase in lift and drag, respectively,” said Ryan. The young researchers used a smoke machine to create a vortex inside the wind tunnel made of wood, plexiglass, and cardboard to test their rockets.
“The real-life importance of this model is that you can calculate the drag of a 500-foot rocket without actually having a 500-foot rocket,” said Johnny.
During the fair, the projects were assessed for clarity of research using the scientific method, critical thinking, and overall presentation. Awards will be announced during the STEM Colloquium on May 23.