Outreach Blooms in Spring
A Few of the Activities Taking Place in and around TJ During April & May:
Science & Techstravaganza
USA Science & Engineering Festival
LIFE (Learning Inspiration for Everyone)
Science & Techstravaganza Returns to TJ
Returning to TJ after two years at Holmes MS was the school’s signature spring outreach event, Science & Techstravaganza. With tables all over the school, including many in newly renovated areas, the hands-on STEM fair featured over 60 activity booths, more than in any previous year.
This year’s generous sponsors, who made the event possible by funding hand-outs and supplies, as well as t-shirts and food for the nearly three hundred student volunteers, were:
- Fairfax Collegiate, which offers accelerated summer courses, online tutoring, and more (three TJ alums are Associate Directors)
- Council for Biotechnology Information, an industry-sponsored group that aims to improve the public’s understanding and acceptance of biotechnology by collecting and communicating balanced, science-based information
- ZolonTech, an IT strategic services company (Ram Mattapalli, Parent ’18, CEO)
- TJ Partnership Fund, TJ’s non-profit foundation
TWIST (Tomorrow’s Women in Science and Technology) and Biology Society again organized the April 23rd event, setting up dozens of booths and soliciting others from TJ’s diverse and growing list of 8th period STEM clubs, including long-time participants WISE (Women Interested in Science & Engineering), Chemistry Team, Chemistry Society, and more.
Clubs new to the fair in 2016 included:
Active Science Alliance’s “Model Roller Coaster”: Learn about gravity, friction, and energy.
Bioinformatics Society’s “DNA Sequence Bracelets”: Learn about DNA models by turning strands into bracelets.
Cancer Research Society’s “Cell Cookies”: Learn about how cancer affects cell growth and create models of healthy or cancerous cells using edible cookie decorations (above right).
First Tech Challenge Robotics: Watch a robot that has motors, sensors, and “arms” move plastic cubes and balls across the floor.
Forensic Science Society’s “Forensic Fingerprint Analysis”: Learn about whorls, arches, and loops, and practice lifting fingerprints from surfaces (right).
KAST (Kids Are Scientists Too) TJ-student-founded chapter of a national STEM outreach non-profit — “Color Explosion”: Observe how dish soap weakens the chemical bonds holding milk’s proteins and fat together.
LIFE (Learning Inspiration for Everyone) 8th period club working with students with disabilities (see LIFE, below) — “Bouncy Balls”: Learn about elasticity and polymers by making bouncy balls.
Neuroscience Society’s “Tricking your Brain”: Virtual reality goggles gave incorrect visual feedback, making it nearly impossible for the youngsters to throw a ball where they want it to go (right; see also Neuroscience, below).
Physics Team’s “Laser Demo”: Learn about the electromagnetic spectrum and see the properties of light demonstrated with prisms, polarizers, and lasers; and “Spin Chair:” explore the conservation of angular momentum using a wheel and a chair (below right).
Product Design Club’s “3D Printing”: Learn how to use a 3D printer.
Robotics for Youth’s hands-on robotics demonstrations using Mindstorms, Raspberry Pi, and much more.
Science Olympiad’s “Lava Lamps”: Make lava lamps by taking advantage of water’s polar and oil’s nonpolar properties.
Varsity Math Team’s “Nim”: Play a mathematical strategy game; and “Economics Game:” apply game theory to the behavior of oligopolies (e.g., Coca-Cola vs. PepsiCo).
Clubs Reach Out Beyond NoVa at DC Convention Center
Since the event’s inception six years ago, TJ students have manned a booth at the nation’s premier STEM event, the USA Science & Engineering Festival, held each spring at DC’s Walter Washington Convention Center.
Astronomy Lab Director and Science & Technology Research Lab Coordinator LeeAnn Hennig spent the entire weekend of April 16th-17th at the TJ booth as representatives of the following clubs manned the booth for several hours at a time. Select photos of each club, courtesy Ms. Hennig, are at this link):
- Math Team
- Environmental Impact Club (EIC)
- Physics Team
- Technology Student Association (TSA)
- Women Interested in Science & Engineering (WISE)
- AP Tourniquet Team (see November 2015 issue)
- Coding Lady Colonials (CLC, pictured at right)
- Bioengineering Projects for the Future (BPF)
LIFE Club Makes Friends at Weyanoke ES
Oobleck is a messy, quasi-solid, quasi-liquid substance made by mixing cornstarch and water (the name comes from the Dr. Seuss book, Bartholomew and the Oobleck). Making it, adding dye to it, squeezing it, and feeling how it changes from liquid to solid in your fist and back to liquid again as you release your grip is an all-time favorite hands-on STEM activity. It certainly brought out the smiles when about a dozen TJ students from the 8th period club Learning & Inspiration for Everyone (LIFE) visited a class of elementary-school special education students during 8th period A Block on Friday, May 13th. Weyanoke Special Education teacher Ellen Horgan’s classroom was alive with the excitement of discovery as youngsters shared their colorful creations with their TJ buddies.
LIFE was founded by Joyce Choi, TJ ’15, who learned firsthand about the power of one-on-one (or other very small) instructional groupings during her summer experiences working with physically and intellectually disabled youngsters as a therapeutic swimming instructor. Director, Minjoo Kang, TJ ’16 and Curriculum Coordinator Megan Do, TJ ’16 (pictured with youngsters at right), became LIFErs as juniors and are now part of a leadership team that includes Treasurer Arpitha Shenoy, TJ ’18, Webmaster Radhika Agrawal, TJ ’17, and Publicist Christine Wang, TJ ’17. Together they lead a group of twenty dedicated students who spend one 8th period every other week engaged in a hands-on STEM activity at a Weyanoke ES.
For the Weyanoke students — some of whom are mainstreamed for several periods of the day — the visit takes place during their Social Skills class. The STEM activities, which emphasize themes that the 4th and 5th graders are studying in science class, bring the TJ volunteers and Weyanoke together for fun, friendship, and social as well as academic learning. As Joyce Choi says on the group’s website, “LIFE centers around a simple philosophy: If you just saw a mini ‘volcano’ explode, naturally you would want to talk about it.”
Taking its cue from NeuroInspire, the successful TJ student-founded non-profit now in its third year, TJ’s Neuroscience Society conducted some outreach of its own, sending a team to Springfield Estates ES for two sessions of hands-on, neuroscience-based activities.
On Thursday, May 19th, ten TJ students spent an hour with eighteen 6th-graders from the Springfield Estates ES Girls in Engineering, Math, and Science (GEMS) Club. Neuroscience Society members took turns leading discussions about brain facts and answering questions that the GEMS girls had prepared (e.g., “Do brain cells come back after they die?” “Do we really use only ten percent of our brain?”) They then led the girls in tests and games that illustrated neuroscience concepts.
The following week Neuroscience Society members led GEMS Club 5th graders in a sheep-brain dissection.
STEMbassadors Assist at Elementary School STEM Fairs
Judging at Fox Mill Science Fair
For the second year in a row, TJ STEMbassadors put their STEM expertise to work serving as judges for the Fox Mill ES Science Fair. Student judges listened to first through third graders present their projects on April 12th, and on April 13th they were back to watch fourth through sixth graders describe their research and provide valuable feedback.
The parents of Fox Mill PTA appreciated the four hours that each of the TJ students devoted to the event, along with their thoughtful questions and evaluations. They thanked the judges for inspiring a love of science among the younger kids.
TJ STEMbassador judges were Tanvi Haldankar, TJ ’18, Atharva Haldankar, TJ ’20, Ashwin Pathi, TJ ’18, and Ashish Tondwalkar, TJ ’18 (right). Details and photo were provided by Shilpa Vaidya, Parent ’18, Fox Mill ES STEMbassador Liaison.
On Thursday, April 7, TJ students conducted science demonstrations at the Oak Hill ES Family Science Night, attended by more than 100 elementary school students. TJ STEMbassadors Rishitha Anumola, TJ ’18, Nathan Chow, TJ ’19, Masha Goykhberg, TJ ’18, Josh Rutzick, TJ ’17 (right), and Varun Saraswathula, TJ ’18, ran such varied demonstrations as: Bio Circuitry and the Human Body; Fingerprint Analysis; Math in 3D; and Math in Many Sizes.
The Oak Hill PTA was thrilled to have such enthusiastic and knowledgeable young leaders at their fair. Details and photo, courtesy Kamakshi Vasudevan, Parent ’18, Oak Hill ES STEMbassador Liaison.