The number of participants in the annual Middle School
Science Symposium doubled in the second year of the event, which was
expanded to add more activities.
The event, which drew 150 students from the 12 middle
schools in the Madison School District, was designed to give students a
chance to take part in an authentic science research symposium by
presenting their own projects. This year, a partnership with WARF
allowed the students to take part in labs when they weren't presenting
their research or watching others.
A total of 75 research projects were presented at the symposium April 25 at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery.
"We thought it was a perfect venue to promote research,"
said Carmen Lombard, science teacher leader for the Madison school
district and symposium committee chairwoman.
Students are paired with a mentor through university,
community and business partnerships to support their research of various
Spring Harbor Middle School seventh-graders Eddie Elder,
Ben Harrington and Odoi Lassey, all 13, presented their research on
whether solar panels are more effective when they are pointed directly
toward the sun. Afterward, they answered questions from those who had
gathered to watch their presentation.
Ben said he was particularly interested in that topic
because his middle school is building a greenhouse and the roof will be a
solar panel. In addition, his family considered solar panels for their
Odoi said Spring Harbor students just finished an energy
project and he was interested in learning more. He also said he enjoyed
learning about other topics by watching the students' presentations.
"It's really cool because we're learning about stem cells, how they work and what they are," Eddie said about one of the labs.
Spring Harbor teacher Dave Ropa, the symposium
facilitator at his school, helped create the symposium with Black Hawk
Middle School teacher Scott Mullee and others.
Lombard said a goal is to involve more partnerships from organizations and businesses in the community.
Ben said a nice addition to the symposium would be the chance for participants to hear about jobs held by university professors and also their insight on the students' research projects.