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The Aquilian

    Gonzaga students hold science fair with WJA; learning experience for all involved

    Pamphlets for the WJA Science Fair Photo credit Gonzaga

    On Friday, Feb. 24 in the Arrupe Commons, Gonzaga students and their partners from the Washington Jesuit Academy met to present the projects they had spent months working on in the first-ever WJA science fair. The fair was founded by Gonzaga juniors John Corso, William Deye and Aidan Friedman in combination with Mr. Andrew Hudspeth. Gonzaga students paired up with students from the WJA all the way back in November, and since then, they had been hard at work experimenting.

    “I was in charge of making sure the program ran smoothly- I coordinated with WJA at the start, worked to recruit Gonzaga students, and helped partners work together on their projects, with everything that entails, from teaching students how to use google sheets to helping them pipette on to lab slides,” Corso said. “We really enjoyed hosting the WJA students; it was great to see them work closely with their partners to make their projects a success and to learn certain skills- teamwork, advance planning, and, in some cases, crisis management- that will stretch even beyond any future scientific pursuits.”

    The pairs were judged by a solid panel, including Dr. Kathleen Maguire-Zeiss of Georgetown Medical School, Dr. Diana Glick of Georgetown University, Dr. James Deye, emeritus director of the Radiation Research Program at the National Cancer Institute, and Mr. Brian Gaudet and Ms. Sierra Gardner of the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center. The projects varied greatly in content, from “Positive Effects of Bed Coverings for Pickup Trucks” to “The Effect of Temperature on the Efficiency of Solar Panels”.

    “Being in the science fair was very nerve-wracking because we were going to present in front of five highly qualified judges; however, it was equally satisfying because I was able to see four months of work come to fruition,” said Peter Allen, whose project was The Effect of Alkalinity on the Growth of Plants. “I chose to be a part of the science fair mostly because I love science and since my own science fair was curtailed due to COVID; it felt like a redemption with the added benefit of helping someone else.”

    Twenty-five total Gonzaga students participated in the fair from all different grade levels. They each worked with an eighth-grade student from the WJA, and their projects were judged using the three criteria of scientific background, experimental design, and analysis.

    “Being in the WJA Science fair was a great experience overall,” Friedman said. “For my experiment, in particular, my partner Anthony and I studied the effect of temperature on the efficiency of solar panels. Our project took about four to five months to complete from concept to completion. We first brainstormed the idea around October, began working in the lab from December through January and finally formulated and presented our results at the fair in February.” Friedman also said that “the fair was a great opportunity for both Gonzaga and WJA students alike. As someone who is interested in science, I wanted to help other kids attain the same love for the subject as I do.”

    It would seem that Friedman succeeded in his goal, as his and Anthony’s project went on to win first prize from the judges.

    “The unique thing about this fair is that all of this was completely independently run by students,” said Mr. Hudspeth. “It was both of these [group partners] working together to make this happen on their own… really a student agency visualized in one project”.

    The WJA science fair is a unique opportunity for both Gonzaga and WJA students alike to pair up, experiment, and do genuine science. After a great start this year, Mr. Hudspeth and the participants are looking forward to an even bigger fair next year.






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