First Annual Delbarton Science Fair


William Li, Staff Writer

On Friday April 5th, the greater Delbarton community showed its support for the sciences at Delbarton’s first ever Science Fair, and it was a massive success! Organized by the Science Research Club leaders, Kevin Zhong, Alex Luo, William Li, with help from advisors Mr. Bitler, and Mr. Theroux,  months in the making, the fair aimed to bridge Delbarton’s numerous science-oriented groups to create a tremendous science extravaganza. Indeed, unlike traditional science fairs, which are focused on competition, the Delbarton Science Fair was a collaborative showcase of the incredible effort that Delbarton students of all ages have put into the sciences both inside and outside the classroom.

To kick off the fair, Delbarton’s middle school students presented the research projects they had been diligently working on in Mrs. Luludis’s science class. A new addition to the curriculum, the research project was an opportunity for the middle schoolers to discover and put into practice the scientific method, and their hard work really showed! All the projects demonstrated a level of skill and intellectual curiosity that far exceeded the ages of the students and visitors were favorably impressed as they filled the FAC.

Unfortunately, the long anticipated weather balloon launch had to be delayed due to unfavorable weather conditions, but the rest of the night went off without a hitch. At five o’clock, visitors relocated into the auditorium where six high school groups began their presentations about the interesting and amazing science projects they have been doing over the past few months with the Research Club.

The Research  in Science Club, newly formed this year, provides extracurricular opportunities for science research and exploration. Each of the fifteen students who presented at the science fair chose to pursue intensive research topics on their own time and of their own volition, and their commitment to science was apparent in the caliber of research conducted. The club advisors were very hands-off with the research process allowing groups the freedom to explore, and explore they did! Students probed the literature, scrutinized data, conducted experiments, and, when all that was complete, they tried again.

Ultimately, some groups were unable to complete their projects by the science fair, but here at Delbarton, we stress the process more than the product – and all groups are looking forward to continuing their research to completion.  In the evening portion of the fair, there were presentations on weather balloons, CRISPR gene editing, machine learning software, running injuries, growing algae and biofuel production, and space exploration with von Neumann machines.

After two hours of science, the congregation took a break for a pizza dinner. Thanks the resourcefulness of Mrs. Gleason and Mrs. Mainardi, visitors were treated with two custom Delbarton Science Fair themed cakes for dessert bearing the club’s motto:  “In Theoremate Id Operatur” (In Theory, It Works!)

Finally, at 6:00 PM, Delbarton’s Panasonic Design Team presented its work for the Panasonic Creative Design Challenge. Working over three hours a day since October, the Panasonic team was tasked with creating a “heart transplant machine” out of very primitive materials. Their robot must mimic a heart transplant machine, and complete many difficult tasks within only a few minutes.  The team is also judged on its engineering handbook, a report about the technical aspects of their robot, and a presentation made to engineering and marketing judges at Panasonic Corporation.  The team has demonstrated great ingenuity, perseverance, and creativity, and has developed an incredibly complex and robust robot. We wish them good providence in the Panisonic finals on April 16th.

Next, Research Club student leaders delivered presentations on their individual research during the summer of 2018. Conducting research at the State University of New York, Kevin Zhong investigated the harmful effects of 4-nonylphenol ethoxylate, a surfactant often used in cleaning products and often found in our drinking water, on accelerating Alzheimer’s disease in those who ingest even small concentrations of that chemical. William Li then discussed his research and how he generated radar images from simulation and taught a computer to classify objects based onhis radar images. These two presentations both won acclaim at national and regional science fairs and were exquisite examples of the highest levels of high school research.

To cap the evening, we were fortunate enough to host Andrew Emerick, a Ph.D. candidate from Columbia University, as a guest speaker. Mr. Emerick delivered an inspiring talk about the principles of astrophysics and his research in investigating the formation of galaxies. All the elements that we interact with on a daily basis from the metals our phones to the carbon in other people were created in the core of different types of stars (including neutron stars) and then dispersed during the formation of galaxies. Fascinated by that prospect, Mr. Emerick has used our nation’s most advanced supercomputers to simulate galaxy formation, and his talk stoked the imagination of everyone in the auditorium.

All in all, the Delbarton Science Fair was a tremendous success. Thank you to everyone who contributed to the fair either by helping with the organization, presenting your projects, or just coming out to support the science. Moving forward, the Research Club has taken note of feedback and has already begun working to improve the fair for 2020. Hope to see you next year!