Community experts help high school students prepare for Science and Engineering Fair

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Future scientists and engineers had a chance to receive feedback from some community experts as Hopkinton High School (HHS) gets ready for their annual Science and Engineering Fair.

   The fair, which has been held at HHS for the past 31 years, is the culmination of work that students have put into researching a science or engineering topic of interest to them. Students in grades 9-12 sign up to participate in the fair, and spend from September to February developing a thesis, doing research, and putting together a presentation on their findings or creations.

   With over 100 students participating in the fair this year, the biggest group in HHS history, the Science & Engineering Fair advisors were hoping to offer different avenues for students to learn more about their topic.

   “We decided to reach out to the community to tap into the many resources we have here,” said HHS Chemistry Teacher Kristen Murphy. “We have so many scientists and engineers living in Hopkinton that we know can give the students advice and valuable insight.”

   The community experts were invited to meet with the students at the school Oct.18, to give feedback on their projects and to talk to them about their own careers in the STEM fields.

   “This was an opportunity for the students to talk to real scientists and real engineers to see what their future could look like,” said Murphy.

   This year, the HHS Science and Engineering Fair will be held Feb. 26 and will be open in the afternoon to the public.

   Each of the projects will be judged by local judges and the top 12 projects will be selected to attend the Regional Fair at Worcester Polytechnical Institute (WPI) in early March. The top 40 projects from the Regional Fair are then sent to the State Fair at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in May.

   “Hopkinton typically sends about three to 10 projects to the states,” said Murphy. “It is very competitive so it is a great accomplishment.”

   Three years ago, HHS sophomore Himanshu Minocha’s project of developing an app that detects if you have had an accident or incident while on exercise equipment in order to alert authorities, was selected to go to the International Science Fair.  

   “That was a huge deal,” said Murphy. “He got to work with some of the top researchers in the world.”

   But for Murphy, a HHS graduate herself, the biggest prize for students participating in the Science and Engineering Fair is the skills that they learn along the way.

   “This was one of the best things I did while in high school,” said Murphy. “I became a better presenter, and learned how to tackle problems. Even if you don’t go into a science field, you will still learn skills you will use for a lifetime.”

   Murphy credits the success of the long-running fair to the support of the administration in STEM education and to several community resources who make “generous” donations for supplies and equipment including the Hopkinton PTA and Solect Energy in Hopkinton.

   If you are in a STEM field and would like to donate your time or resources to help students with their Science Fair projects, or would like to act as a judge for the fair in February, contact Murphy at kmmurphy@hopkinton.k12.ma.us.