The second annual Nantucket Science Festival took place on March 16, 2019. Between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., kids and adults of all ages swarmed to the Nantucket High School gymnasium to take part in the festivities. The event was hosted by the Maria Mitchell Association in partnership with the Nantucket Community School, and funds were given by Dr. David and Beverly Barlow and The Nantucket Land Council. Admission to the event was free, with a plethora of activities to choose from. Various science-related businesses and organizations filled the room with games and activities. In the center of the basketball court, attendees could learn how to build a lunar base camp using blocks, or figure out what it takes to fly a rocket to the moon. Participating kids enjoyed playing in the cardboard forts, or watching various science experiments that were set up both in the gym and the front lobby. Parents took photos of their children in cardboard cutouts of an astronaut and a spaceship. Their excitement only increased when the children discovered they could earn prizes at different tables.
This year, after a two-year-long break, the high school STEM fair was brought into the hall of the whale. Contestants included Joshua Harding and Marta Saravia, Tajaun Francis, Angel Lemus, Dianny Martinez and Grace Hood, Tatiana Lemus, Tori Dixon and Skyler Kardell, Aslyn Ray and Angelina Ozoria, and Breanna Leveille. Many students were not able to begin their experiments until after winter break making Tori Dixon the only student who was able to compete at the state level. Tori’s project discussed the most efficient way to kill E. Coli, and she was even able to borrow resources from the Nantucket Cottage Hospital to conduct her experiment. Breanna Leveille was runner up with a study on the benefits of marijuana and more specifically, CBD. For the winners, cash prizes were given out and participating students were able to receive extra credit in their science classes. Senior Tajaun Francis explained, “I did the science fair because I’ve learned so much in class and I thought it would be fun to make a lab. Sometimes doing work like this can be boring but I had a really fun time and found out some very cool information.” Francis wasn’t the only one who enjoyed participating in the fair this year; Senior Joshua Harding, who worked with fellow senior Marta Saravia, researched ways to prevent and help deal with Parkinson’s disease. He said, “I really liked researching and it made me think of what future projects I can also do.” Student projects covered a wide variety of topic, ranging from proving climate change to neuroplasticity.
The program owes many thanks to high school anatomy teacher Dr. Amy Hinson. Hinson was in charge of organizing the student science fair, and was very encouraged to see its successful outcome; “It’s been a couple of years since we have had students participate in the stem fair and I think it was phenomenal. It was such a great turn out and we could have even gotten a couple more students if it wasn’t due to outside conflict.” Hinson was also very encouraged to see the students figure out ideas on their own, claiming it really added to the overall positive atmosphere.
By Anna Steadman