Last week, a year’s worth of scientific exploration came to fruition for Ross seventh and eighth graders as they presented results of their independently designed projects at the annual Science Fair. Each student set up a display of his or her results on tables in the Great Hall, and community members, including other students, faculty and staff, and parents, visited the displays in turn, asking questions and learning more about a wide variety of topics.
One focus for students was sports-related science; in fact (and not surprisingly, considering that Ross houses a tennis academy), one entire table was dedicated to tennis investigations. Students evaluated which day of the week tennis players performed best, whether left-handed tennis players were statistically the same in their performance as the population overall, and whether meditating before playing tennis has a beneficial effect. Inspired by the New England Patriots’ “Deflategate” scandal, one student examined the effect of deflating a football before you kick it. And another made observations about how to produce a perfect basketball shot.
Another cluster of students used plants for their research, studying the effects of natural fertilizers, music, and soil type on plant growth in three separate experiments. A sustainability focus could be seen in projects focusing on water quality in local bodies of water, air pollution from car motors, and the use of indoor plants to improve a room’s air quality.
Experiments related to physiology (such as recording the effect of age and senses on blood pressure, and investigating the effects of video games on the body), psychology (evaluating people’s reaction to eye color and surveying the types and strengths of fear experienced by teens and adults), and gender differences (disparities in subconscious memory, ability to distinguish colors, and ability to overcome distorted sensory input from inversion goggles) also added to the mix of research topics.
The students’ presentations were evaluated by a team of judges made up of Upper School students, faculty, and staff, and winners were announced at Monday’s Community Meeting. In grade 7, Caly Stewart won first place for her assessment of water quality and the use of natural biological filters, such as oysters and hermit crabs, to help improve the quality. Second place went to Parker Firestone, who determined that Tuesday, surprisingly, was the best day for tennis performance. There was a tie for third place for two researchers who also focused on tennis: Brando Fabri-Corigliano, who found that meditation did indeed improve performance, and Taylor Thomas, who found that “lefties” did rack up some stats that were better than predicted by the average population.
In grade 8, India Galesi-Grant received first place for her research into how effective it is to use dill pickles instead of pharmacological antacids to treat acid reflux. Second place was another tie, this time split among three students: Ian Morgan, who tested how accurate Moore’s Law (the observation that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years) is, based on the performance of a range of older computers; Chandler Littleford, who surveyed several hundred participants to learn about their fears and the intensity of those fears, and analyzed the results by subject age; and Ally Friedman, who grew pole beans in various types of soil to determine the optimal composition to encourage growth. Third place went to Ella Griffiths, who analyzed the connections her subjects made between eye color and perceived trustworthiness.