The past week was the middle school Science Fair at The Gooden School in Sierra Madre. A good friend of mine, senior physics student Valère Lambert (see his awesome blogs here!) asked me if I’d be willing to help out the next Tuesday. I didn’t have class that morning, so I said, sure! We got up real early (7 am, can you believe it?!?!) and headed out. The tri-fold boards of all three grades were lined up on tables in the gymnasium. Val with his coffee and I with my tea, we walked around as we waited for the first period to begin. Some experiments looked very impressive for middle schoolers! First up was sixth grade. Val and I got our clipboards with grading sheets and pens. The procedure was as follows. Each student would give his or her presentation in front of the entire class, their teacher, and us (the judges). All of the sixth grade projects were in the earth sciences, seventh grade projects were in the biological or chemical sciences, and eighth grade projects were in the physical sciences. Several of the students’ projects were very impressive considering their age!
I had such a good time on Tuesday that I decided to come back again on Wednesday so that I could see allof the students’ projects!!
Here’s a sampling of some very cool projects from the seventh and eight grades. Enjoy!
“The Effect of Sugar Substitutes on the Growth of Yeast” (7th grade) - A really good experiment, proving that sugar substitutes like while aspartame and saccharine might taste like real sucrose, they don’t have the same chemical / biological effect in nature.
“Milk Rock” (7th grade) - Who knew you could form solids out of milk and vinegar when you put it in the microwave? Magic, you say? Not so!
“The Chemistry of Clean” (7th grade) - By varying the degree of purification in their soap-making process, these students were able to change the pH of their final soap bar products, proving how important standardization is for soap makers to make non-toxic products!
“Does Electromagnetic Radiation Have a Harmful Effect on the Growth of Green Lentil Plants?” (8th grade) - Super impressive!! Not only was this experiment extremely detailed, with multiple studies, testing for multiple variables, and extensive controls within a single project, it was beautifully presented. This student, like many others, gave an incredibly professional presentation and comfortably handled cross-examination. Kudos to her!
“Which Antacid Works Best For Your Heartburn?” (8th grade) - An experiment with immediate individual implications, this student varied his testing by using red cabbage instead of pH strips or chemical indicator as a detector of acidity/basicity.
“Does Trajectory Really Matter?” (8th grade) - Ahh, memories of Physics 1a (Newtonian Kinematics) come rushing back! This was a classic physics experiment studying angle and distance.
Almost a year ago now, I was just about to start my first Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) at JPL. NASA had sent out an email to all of their summer interns containing a social media template to announce that we had been selected as NASA interns. Excited to show my NASA pride, I posted it on my Instagram story, unaware of what would come out of this small action.
Hey hey! We’re starting a series where I walk you through my best finds for food and drinks in the Pasadena region, and in the LA metropolitan area. Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, if you will (although, for copyright reasons we can’t call it that). As you explore your college options, I firmly believe that food and location are more important than your high school guidance counselor may lead you to believe. And I’m here to share my best finds from my time at Caltech with you.
Over the past several months, I have had the opportunity to intern at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) under the mentorship of senior research technologist Dr. Xiaoqing Pi. Dr. Pi’s guidance and mentorship has been instrumental to the development and success of my internship at JPL, where I use machine-learning to enhance the accuracy and integrity of navigation and communication signals. In addition to helping me develop an understanding of atmospheric and ionospheric remote sensing and machine-learning, Dr. Pi has often offered his insights on how to improve my researching skills. Dr. Pi was generous enough to take the time to answer a few questions regarding his research and advice for future student interns. I believe many students can benefit from some of the lessons that he has taught me:
The transition period to remote learning was a very uncertain time, especially for research and the Caltech Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) program. Many hands-on projects had to pivot at the last minute to facilitate off-campus contributions. However, many Techers were able to take advantage of the research opportunities offered at Caltech and JPL to make the best out of remote learning and research. To paint a picture, I’ve interviewed a few talented Techers for some insight on what researching from home looks like for them.