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Volume 65 Number 2

Chadwick students branch out to fuel individual science interests

by Sara Platnick - 2014-11-20

With the introduction of the new STEM class this year, upperclassmen are given the opportunity to focus on conducting research related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics for a class. Recently, students were required to submit proposals for an independent research project related to one of those topics.

The project is done individually, and it takes up the majority of the year. Students are encouraged first to find a mentor or internship related to the topic, and once they find someone to work with, then they are able to find a specific area of interest to study. Some examples of the project are with Junior Madeline Culver-Kerr and Senior Lydia Krauss, who are studying ocean acidification around Los Angeles and Prosthetic Hands, respectively.

“I wanted to do something with space or aeronautical engineering, but it proved to be more difficult to find a mentor or an internship, and so I went down to Cabrillo Aquarium and there they have science research-type program,” said Culver-Kerr. “I chose to do research on ocean acidification and the differences of ocean acidification along the coast of Los Angeles and the Palos Verdes Peninsula, Long Beach, and the Los Angeles Harbor, and I am planning on comparing that with ocean acidification in Catalina, which is not an upwelling zone like we are.”

Krauss decided to focus on a different area of interest, and is instead looking into prosthetic hands: ““There is an online community called e-nable, which designs software that 3D prints prosthetic hands for those who have a wrist joint but don’t have a hand. So what I am doing for my project is two parts, so first I am getting involved with a community, so I have been corresponding with several people about what their projects are and what they have been doing.”

The online community, called “E-nable,” is centered around prosthetic hands, and contributors can submit articles, videos, and host Google+ hangout conversations to talk about developments with 3D printing and prosthetic hands.

“For my individual project, I am looking into range of motion and grip strength testing in order to synthesize a new hand that can be 3D printed that can hopefully be modular and so it can be used for different things.” For example, when writing, the hand has to be more stationary, while a hand that is playing sports needs to be more dynamic and able to move readily.

Culver-Kerr will be conducting her research at the Cabrillo Aquarium in San Pedro. While she does not have a specific mentor, she is using the Aquarium’s format and structure in order to conduct research and then get help from the researchers are the aquarium for how to synthesize data. “I am doing an independent project which is different from how the STEM course was originally intended to be, but I think [Dr. Schwartz, the teacher of the class] cares more about progress and methodology,” said Culver-Kerr.

Krauss is also conducting an independent research project, but she is using e-nable as a stepping ground for advice and collaboration. “I applied for about 20 or 30 internships but they can’t really take people who don’t have some sort of medical training because you would be working in a clinical study with actual people so you can’t really have high schoolers doing it. So I couldn’t really get an internship, but I do have connections to people in the field through this website,” said Krauss.

The independent research project, by the end of the year, is expected to take up over 100 hours. “I would say time management is key. I still have no idea how it’s going to work out. I am living each day as it comes and I’m getting my work done by the days they need to get done, and I’m hoping for the best and am pretty excited,” said Culver-Kerr.



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Article Keywords:

krauss, culverkerr, research, independent, project, internship, ocean, acidification, prosthetic, aquarium, don, hand, doing, people

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