High School Scientists Showcase Projects at Northwestern

High School Scientists Showcase Projects at Northwestern

Meaningful Science Consortium project

Physics projects named Splash Smash, Red Dragon and Metallica were among the science projects that Chicago Public Schools students displayed at a Northwestern University high school science showcase on May 21.  The 75 students presenting projects in physics, chemistry and earth science studied Meaningful Science Consortium curricula developed at the School of Education and Social Policy.

The Meaningful Science Consortium (MSC) Project Showcase was held in conjunction with the Undergraduate Research and Arts Exposition at Norris Center. The showcase featured high-quality projects created by ninth- through 11th-grade Chicago Public Schools students as part of the MSC-supported, project-based science curriculum at their high schools.

“These projects provide an opportunity for students to synthesize and apply what they’ve learned to develop their own solutions to the real-world challenges presented in the curriculum,” notes SESP research associate professor Linda Brazdil. MSC is engaged in a long-term partnership with Chicago high schools to improve the quality for science instruction, increase the number of students achieving high standards in science and prepare students for college-level science.

Meaningful Science Consortium project

In the project-based Meaningful Science Consortium curriculum, designing a roller coaster teaches students about the laws of conservation of energy, as well as velocity, acceleration, kinetic energy, potential energy, mechanical energy and more. Students expressed approval for learning with the inquiry-focused curriculum. “I was interested in learning more,” says Jesus Magdaleno of Richards Career Academy. “It takes a lot to find the right design to find a roller coaster that’s safe.”

Students also displayed MSC projects where they designed a fictitious animal to suit a certain habitat or determined the best alternative energy source for a certain locale. For example, Jake Schultz of Hancock High School designed a snow lion (Samsonus snowus) for the tundra, and another group from the school analyzed the use of wind power for Albuquerque, New Mexico.

In addition to displaying and discussing their projects, students also participated in laboratory tours to observe cutting-edge science at Northwestern University. Tours also took in the Northwestern’s solar-powered car and the energy-efficient “tiny house” developed by McCormick School of Engineering students.

The day began with introductory remarks by Northwestern President Morton Schapiro. At the end of the day during an awards ceremony, awards were presented to projects that excelled in various categories.

Also presenting at the showcase were Chicago Public Schools students who participated in the NASA Summer Research Program. In a five-week summer research experience designed by SESP educators, these students used NASA data to explore research topics related to global climate change. They developed posters to present the results of their analyses.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 5/24/12