M-A’s eighth annual STEM fair showcases innovative projects
Last week, Menlo-Atherton High School hosted its eighth annual STEM Fair. From a project testing the optimal strategy for frying crispy potatoes to T-shirts that purify the air around them, the nine entries were impressive displays of scientific ingenuity.
Many projects focused on pressing topics like climate change, drug testing, and artificial intelligence (AI). Senior Ron Freeman won first place for his project on high-precision ranging via microwave phase interferometry; in other words, Freeman designed a device to detect vibrations and movement at a high precision over large distances by transmitting and receiving continuous wave signals.
Senior Alexandre Sauquet placed second with a project that classified the origin of blood clots and ischemic strokes with the aid of AI. Sauquet’s project could allow doctors to more effectively diagnose strokes, prescribe the proper medication for them, and identify their location.
“My grandfather passed away a few years ago, during the pandemic, due to diagnosed health issues,” Sauquet shared. “I’ve seen the effects of not having enough doctors on site. Helping doctors by getting tools like these is a constructive way of helping our society learn about science.”
Senior Parsa Zaheri presented a project analyzing photocatalytic clothing, appropriately named “CatClo.” After spraying T-shirts with titanium dioxide and placing them in the sun, the titanium photocatalyst neutralized harmful gasses and purified the air around the shirt. Zaheri found that the T-shirt was more effective than standard air purifiers at eliminating harmful gasses.
“It’s sustainable fashion,” Zaheri explained. “There are all these brands trying to get in on it. If Nike or Patagonia were to switch to photocatalytic clothing, it would look good for the brand and help the environment.”
Freshman Emile Freeman created a device that projects music through haptic vibrations, allowing people to experience music through touch rather than sound.
“I really enjoy music, and it’s something that carries a lot of emotion and culture with it,” Freeman said. “I wanted to find a way to share music with people who aren’t able to experience it that well.”
Junior Andrew Ahn used computational modeling to measure the effectiveness of 200,000 potential virus medications and suggest improvements in current antiviral drugs.
“Organic compounds have always interested me,” Ahn said. “This was a way for me to explore that further.”
Sammy Mryowitz, a STEM Fair judge, is a trained chef who works as a software engineer at Apple. Myrowitz was happy to see that there was a food science project at the fair. “It’s a very important and lucrative industry with a lot of money and value in it,” he said. “The food you put in your body is a very important thing for people to understand, especially at a younger age and going forward.”
M-A science teacher Dr. Rachel Richards, who organized the STEM fair, said: “I’m always really impressed by the caliber of the projects. I made a point of asking students, ‘Who helped you with this project?’ because I thought some were working in a lab with a grad student or professor, but all of these students said, ‘I did it all on my own.’
“The students have inspired me with their creativity, their ideas, how they think about the problems happening in the world, and how they then try to find solutions for them. It really makes me feel hopeful for the future.”
Celine Chien writes for the M-A Chronicle where this article originally appeared.
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