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STEM is in the air!

STEm for Middle School girls at the Handlebar Cafe.
Join us at the Science Festival this Saturday!
Join us the second Monday in April and May!

This week the President is hosting the White House Science Fair. President Obama is expected to announce over $240 million in new STEM commitments. STEM, the acronym for Science Technology Engineering and Math has been sweeping the country and is making a significant impact on our island. While we’ve always had a strong science and conservation presence, there are several events this month highlighting STEM sciences where you and/or your kids can be involved. These events are being hosted, sponsored, and attended by many of your local scientists serving as mentors, judges, and co-creators.

  1. Nantucket High School Science Fair

After months of planning, research, and experimentation, the Nantucket High School Science Fair was held last Thursday afternoon, March 19th. This was a “rebuilding year” for the NHS science fair as the school works with local scientists to encourage participation in this volunteer program. The Nantucket Biodiversity Initiative (NBI) recently took up this cause assisting NHS science teachers with logistics, planning, mentoring, and running of this year’s fair. Led by Andrew Mckenna-Foster of the Maria Mitchell Association (MMA), and Sarah Oktay of the UMASS Field Station, mentors from the Nantucket Land Council (Emily Molden), the Nantucket Shellfish program, MMA (Michael West), and the Linda Loring Nature Foundation (Sarah Bois) worked with students through each step of the scientific process.

The result? From an initial afterschool group of about 40 students, four exceptional projects from seven dedicated individuals were presented on Thursday. This was a completely volunteer project done onthe students own time outside of school. One incentive to spur interest in the project: the NBI, the MMA, and the UMASS Field Station all contributed cash prizes for the top three winners (see below). The Handlebar Café also donated coffee gift cards to all participants and judges. Here’s hoping that the success of this year’s participants will inspire a new group of would-be scientists next year. The NBI plans to continue the mentoring and support of this program.

First: Imidacloprid concentrations in honey and honeybees from Nantucket and Cape Cod – Mia Silverio

Second: Climate Change’s Disastrous Effects on Our Oceans – Sarah Daume, Samantha Trattel, Amelia Murphy

Third: Erosion Explosion – Tessa Whelden and Mei Marks

Fourth: Are Periwinkles Affected by CO2? – Karen Murtagh

  1. STEM Sundays at Handlebar

The Handlebar Café has begun a STEM club for Middle School girls. Courtney Bridges, Lighthouse School teacher and co-owner of the Handlebar originally hoped to have six participants. She was blown away (with excitement) when she had 13 applicants from all three island schools. Working over a four week period with high school student Caroline Richards, a bright star at the high school, as Courtney’s teaching assistant, the group has studied the engineering process, science of finger printing, Fibonacci Sequence, coding, and cyphers. Courtney has fostered a supportive, fun, and creative environment for each to explore the various aspects of STEM. Courtney has also tapped local women in the sciences to talk about their jobs and research. There are plenty of amazing Nantucket female scientists to choose from!

  1. STEM Fair at the Nantucket New School

The STEM Fair at the Nantucket New School encompassing projects from Upper School students is being held Tuesday, March 24. Rather than a traditional science fair, STEM encourages project in engineering, math, and technology as well. This fair has yielded some amazing projects including designing an algorithm to determine what it takes to create a Grammy-winning song, to what types of skate board wheels travel the fastest. There are also lots of local science examples with students asking questions about Nantucket water quality, beach salinity, and erosion. Again, members of the NBI are tapped to judge the fair and offer advice to the budding scientists.

  1. Nantucket Science Festival this Saturday!

The Maria Mitchell Association, along with the Nantucket Community School, is bringing the first Nantucket Science Festival to the island. Representatives from the Linda Loring Nature Foundation and the Nantucket Conservation Foundation will also be on-hand with demonstrations and examples of Nantucket nature. All ages are welcome to get in touch with your inner scientist! There will be opportunities to construct robots, dismantle machines, learn about nanotechnology, and build electrical circuits. This will be a great event for the whole family.

When: Saturday March 28th, 10am – 2pm

Where: Cyrus Pierce Middle School

  1. Science Pub with the Linda Loring Nature Foundation!

There are still two chances to be a part of the Science Pub fun. Hosted by the LLNF and the Rose and Crown, Science Pub has been a fun winter event. Science Pub is a chance for islanders to learn about what’s going on in their backyard while hearing about how local organizations are contributing to their scientific discipline. Each month a different island researcher talks about their research in an easy-going, fun, and informative way with plenty of time for questions, comments, and interaction. The April 13th event will feature the research of Danielle O’Dell and Jen Karberg from NCF. Hope to see you there!

When: 6pm – 8pm  

Where: The Rose and Crown, 23 South Water Street

Monday, April 13th: Marsh Madness at Medouie Creek: What’s a turtle to do? Danielle O'Dell and Dr. Jen Karberg; Nantucket Conservation Foundation

Monday, May 11th: Frankly scallop…you should give a clam about water quality, Jeff Carlson, Tara Anne Riley, and Leah Cabral; Natural Resources Department, Town of Nantucket


So, how so you get your science on?