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March 2012

Check out the updates below to find out what students and staff have been up to in the science department!

Students Showcase Research at Science Symposium

On Wednesday, March 14, freshmen and sophomores participated in the second-annual Science Symposium. Students presented their work and explain their individual scientific investigations with peers. Families and community members were invited to meet with students, learn about the results of their independent science investigations, and share in the day's celebrations. 

In addition, seniors showcased their roller coaster projects for Ms. DeChant's physics class; freshmen and sophomores shared their "design a city" projects from Ms. Galib's introduction to biology and chemistry class; and juniors talked about their participation in the Penn Medicine Pipeline program. The Boys' Latin robotics team also showcased their robot and recruited members for next year's team.

Prizes sponsored by the Boys' Latin Extended Family Network were awarded to exemplary projects. A special thanks goes to parents, board member Sally Randolph, and Dina Portnoy and Christopher Bogiages from the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation for serving as judges.

The following students won awards at the fair:
First Place
Naim Williams (9) Measuring impact of projectiles of different masses 

Second Place
Darryl Goldsmith (10) Testing packing materials and dropping an egg 

Third Place 
Joziah Green (10) Too much of a good thing: Comparing caloric intake by fruit flies 

Most Creative Question
Seon Gilding (10) Measuring of the effect of hair relaxer on hair 

Excellence in Data Collection 
Raleigh Russell (10) Comparing paper airplane designs

Excellence in Presentation 
Marcell Denmark (9) Does magnetism have an effect on plant growth? 

Honorable Mentions
Caelan Anderson-Purvy (9) What is the force applied on a soccer ball when kicked at different positions? 
Aaron Bennett (9) Potato Clock: What effect does potato size have on ability to power a digital clock? 
Julian Dunaway (10) Investigating the effect of different liquids on bone decay 
Michael Hammock (9) World of bacteria: Analyzing how antibacterial soap affects bacteria growth 
Keanan McDaniel (10) Measuring the effect of temperature on luminol 
Mickai Mercer (9) Conserving water by controlling wind 
Terance Scott (9) The wonders of the tongue papillae 

Penn State Graduate Students in Entomology Featured at Speaker Series

On Thursday, March 15, Boys’ Latin students joined students from University City High School for the monthly Science Speaker Series.

The featured speaker, Paul Ayayee, is a PhD student in entomology at Pennsylvania State University. Mr. Ayayee is also a member of the International Association of Black Entomologists. He was joined by fellow graduate student Anthony Vaudo, who studied at the University of Florida before pursuing his PhD at Penn State.

Mr. Ayayee is originally from Ghana, earned a bachelors degree in zoology from the University of Ghana, and them completed a masters degree in entomology from the University of Kentucky. 

Mr. Ayayee's research focuses on the possible symbiotic association of the wood-boring Asian Long-horned Beetle and Nitrogen fixing bacteria. Mr. Ayayee and a Mr. Vaudo from Penn State spoke to students about the diversity of insects and the roles that insects play in ecosystems. Much of the talk focused on topics that were very familiar to students in biology and chemistry. At the end of the talk, students were able to observe and hold specimens from the Penn State labs. 

The Boys' Latin Science Speaker Series has featured a guest scientist each month during the 2011-2012 school year. Past speakers have included an aerospace engineer, biomedical researchers, a computer engineer, veterinarian, and a pathologist. Boys' Latin has partnered with a teacher and students from University City High School to connect the two schools and expand opportunities for students in West Philadelphia. Find out more about the series.

Students Selected as STEM Scholars by the Franklin Institute

Recently, two students from Boys' Latin were selected to participate in the STEM Scholars program sponsored by the Franklin Institute. Freshmen Thomas Shepard and Naim Williams will travel to the Franklin Institute twice a month this spring and then for a series of sessions during the summer to participate in this program for high-achieving students with interests in science, technology, math, and engineering. Students visit labs throughout the city, meet science professionals, and engage in hands-on learning that deepens their science knowledge base.

The STEM Scholars program through the Franklin Institute identifies highly motivated freshman high school students to participate in a four-year concentrated outreach science and engineering program to ensure their long-term pursuit of careers in the sciences. The STEM Scholars program admits 15 students each year. Students must have a minimum of a 3.0 GP and participate in an interview to be considered.

In 2011, four students from Boys' Latin were selected to participate in the program: Dontez Banks, Brendon Colteste, Joziah Green, and Raleigh Russell.

Students and parents who are interested in similar opportunities should check out our internships page.

Students Participate in National Society of Black Engineers Convention, Compete in Math and Science Competitions

Six students travelled to Pittsburgh for the annual national convention for the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) from Wednesday, April 28, to Sunday, April 1.

This is the first year of the Boys' Latin NSBE Jr. chapter. Any interested student is eligible to apply to the chapter.

The six students attending this year's convention started prepared for a Try-Math-a-Lon competition in December, convening on alternating Saturdays to improve skills in math. Two graduate engineering students and NSBE members from Penn pitched in on some of the Saturday practices to help prepare the students. 

Students participated in--and placed second--in a Boeing airplane design competition. The convention also included a college and career fair and a number of sessions about building resumes, applying for scholarships, and preparing for interviews.

Read blog entries from our chapter's representatives at the convention to find out what they learned at the conference. Here's an excerpt from the blog written by junior Deion Pugh:

An engineer from the Boeing company talked to us about the anatomy of an airplane. Boeing is a company that designs and builds airplanes. We learned about the parts of a plane: the wing, the body, the tail, and the propulsion system. We also learned about the ways axes on which a plane moves. Next, the employer showed us the different shapes and sizes of airplanes and what they were used for. Next, were had to create a design for an airplane. First, everyone had to agree on the same design. And then, we started putting the idea on paper. We had to draw a blueprint of how we are going to cut it out of a 3-inch by 36-inch piece of balsa wood. This task was very difficult because the wing and the tail should be designed to have a specific ratio, and we had to plug the measurements into an equation so that the airplane would be able to fly. The aspect ratio included the surface area divided by the length of the plane part. Eventually we finished the blueprint and got our outline for how we’re going to create our airplane model more.

The Boys' Latin NSBE chapter is seeking new members. Students and parents should contact Mr. Smith

Three Students Place at George Washington Carver Science Fair

On Tuesday, March 6, ten students from Boys' Latin presented the findings from their independent science investigations at the annual George Washington Carver Science Fair at Temple University. Out of the ten students from Boys' Latin, three earned an honorable mention and attended an awards ceremony at the Academy of Natural Sciences on Friday.
  • Myles Hinsey (10) What fruit combinations can power a PSP?
  • Kristian Houston (9) Do you get more wet running or walking in the rain?
  • Mickai Mercer (9) Conserving water by controlling wind
Congratulations to these young men for their achievements. 

Philadelphia Math + Science Coalition, Dow Chemical Company Awards $1000 Grant to Boys' Latin Science Department

Teachers from the Boys' Latin science department applied for a "Classroom Innovation Grant" awarded by the Philadelphia Math + Science Coalition with sponsorship from Dow. The grants were awarded to 15 schools in the Greater Philadelphia region to strength science instruction and provide hands-on learning opportunities for students.

The Boys' Latin grant proposal addressed student learning in the introduction to biology and chemistry course. As part of the course, students are considering how diverse organisms contribute to transfers of matter and energy throughout Earth's ecosystems and biogeochemical cycles.

1. Students will improve understanding of content and use of process skills in a number of labs and learning experiences that are part of two units on living things. 
  • Students will apply understandings of ecosystems and flow of matter and energy by making predictions about relationships in a living, unknown ecosystems. 
  • Students will generate rationales for classifying organisms and compare to commonly accepted systems of classification (microorganisms, fungi, and plant samples). 
2. The science department at our school (both students and teachers) will build upon existing efforts to develop science curricula and a culture grounded in hands-on observation of the natural world instead of texts and abstract examples and terms. 
  • Students will increase the kinds of questions and the diversity of science fair projects based on interactions with living things.
  • Teachers will increase the number of opportunities for students to interact with living and preserved organisms.
Students have been engaging with the materials over the past few weeks and will continue to do so through the end of the year.