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Students in grades 6-8 present scientific discoveries for independent science study (SISP)

Students in grades 6-8 present scientific discoveries for independent science study (SISP)

This week, students in sixth, seventh and eighth grade presented the culmination of their trimester-long independent study in science, which is known as SISP (Science Independent Study Project). ⁠

During the year, students prepare and present a science independent research project focusing on a question of interest drawn from across their three years of Middle School science curriculum. Students had a chance to answer a question of their own design by using the scientific method. Their work culminated with a display board, research paper/lab report and logbook which were displayed at the SISP Expo and included feedback from judges in a variety of STEM fields as well as visits from faculty & staff, parents and Upper School students. The SISP experience is invaluable for our students to understand the scope of science from inquiry to communication. It helps build several science skills, and also provides life lessons in research and time management. Click here for photos.

Below are interviews with a few students on the experience that lessons they learned about themselves as scientists and researches: 

  • Vlada, Grade 8: My question was: "Will climate mitigation with enhanced crop weathering, such as Olivine, enhance crop growth?" The difference between lime and Olivine is Olivine can actually capture CO2 from the atmosphere and cool the planet, while lime can't do that. And at the same time, Olivine releases beneficial nutrients into the soil, such as calcium, which increases crop growth. If farmers do switch from lime to Olivine, they would cool the planet and help mitigate climate change, which would be really beneficial. America is currently one of the biggest suppliers to climate warming. It could cause a big difference. Personally, I love growing plants. I learned a lot about the climate in my mom's work (she's a climate scientist for the government). I also learned about how we could help the environment just by farming with Olivine. Farmers could help the climate even just a little bit. But we all can do these little steps just to help our environment. And I'm thinking of replanting my plants to Olivine. I have a couple of plants in my backyard, so I would like to do that. And I learned more about how everyone can help our environment. In thinking about the high school, I talked with Dr. Muoio about the service component. I could work with a company that sells Olivine or helps with climate change over my four-year high school time. 
  • Fatima, Grade 8: Food waste is a very common problem, especially in the US, and composting, being one of the main solutions, can be very hectic and high maintenance. So I conducted this experiment to help with that by using common sources of natural fertilizers to help make the process faster and easier. I set up four different bottles with dirt and different natural fertilizers. I use horse manure, blood meal, grass clippings, and coffee grounds. They're all very high in nitrogen, which is good for a compost pile. It turns out that horse manure did the best job. It decomposed the banana slices the fastest. I just started small with a banana to see what type of natural fertilizer we could use to decompose it and maybe apply this to further studies. With these kinds of projects, you have to be really, really organized with your data, especially in the notebook, because you've never realized how useful it is when you finally construct your project. And time management too. 
  • Aurelia, Grade 7: My question was, "Does musical preference affect what notes, scales, chords and corporations people find the most pleasing?" I gave my participants a sheet to fill out about what they listen to, like pop, indie music, and stuff like that. I played them a series of scales and chords and chord progressions and saw which ones they found the most pleasing. I was trying to find whether pop listeners preferred a certain scale and if that correlated to the genre of pop. I don't think there was a direct kind of correlation, but I also found that some of it did kind of relate to my topic. Overall, I don't know if my data was fully representative of my question, but I think that it was an interesting experience to experiment on this and to look at what people prefer just in general. What I learned from this experience is that I'm quite ambitious. I was not expecting this to be such a challenge. I had to do a lot of research on music theory because I didn't quite understand everything yet. That was quite helpful to me as a musician to know all this now. It was also figuring out which chords to play and what was going to get my experiment the best results to relate to my question. I also think that I was quite organized with it all because I had to work with human subjects rather than objects like plants. People aren't completely reliable. I had to make appointments for them. No one answered my Google Form, so then I was like, "Okay, well, I'm just going to schedule the appointments, and then you've got to email me if it doesn't work." And so, I had to be a little straightforward with it because if no one responded, I couldn't do my experiment. And if they have agreed, then they've agreed.
  • Ellery, Grade 7: My project was, "What was the effect of warming up different types of squash balls?" I did this experiment with five different types: blue, red, double yellow dot, green, and yellow dot squash balls. I hypothesized that the warmer balls bounced higher, which was true. I did well trying to overcome the difficulties in the procedure in the very beginning, and to stick to a deadline, because there was a lot of just trial and error when it came to the procedure. We didn't know how to position the phone, where to drop the balls from, how to warm them up, and how to measure them. So I think being able to overcome that helped save the experiment for me. I knew I liked science and liked doing experiments to see the results. But I really enjoyed doing this because it was fascinating to see how my predictions came true or didn't come true. I like looking at graphs too.