By Sam Funk (SHS '17)
STUTTGART | May 24, 2017
From April 26th to the 30th in San Diego, California, hundreds of students arrived at the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) National Competition to present their hard work and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) research projects. Stuttgart High School (Germany) was proud to see two students advance to nationals: Rachael Dickenson (SHS ’18) and Jimmy Lynch (SHS ’17) were both selected to attend the JSHS National Competition due to their placements in JSHS Europe, second and fourth place respectively. Hours of work went into their projects. Not a moment of effort was wasted because whether the students experienced failure or success, they learned from the process and will only become stronger and more intelligent.
Dickenson was chosen to participate as an oral presenter; she delivered a twelve-minute presentation on her project entitled: The Evolution of an Invasive Species: Solidago candensis in Europe and the Americas: A comparison using ribosomal ITS and 5S-NTS DNA. Lynch was selected to attend as a poster presenter where he provided a three-minute presentation about his project called: Towards a Sustainable Oxygen Supply for Martian Colonies: Design and Testing of an Oxygen Producing Solar Panel Bioreactor for Spirulina Algae. Both students were extremely excited to participate in the event, especially Lynch, as this was his final opportunity to take part in JSHS.
Dickenson was awarded second place at the JSHS National Competition and in turn received an $8,000 scholarship. Her placement proves that hard work always ends with a sufficient and justified reward. When asked about her experience she states: "JSHS was a great experience that allowed me to discuss my research project with other like-minded students as well as learn more about STEM-oriented careers. I received great feedback from judges who are professionals in STEM fields as well as attended seminars about their experiences and current cutting-edge technology they work to develop on a daily basis.”
Rachael explained that the hardest part of competing in JSHS was deciding on a project and maintaining the level of self-discipline necessary to complete her research. At the end of the process, she felt that both the easiest and most rewarding part was, “actually getting up and giving my presentation to the national judges”. The opportunity to explain her project and showcasing all her research was by far the most enjoyable and least tedious part of the project.
Rachel encourages other students but cautions, “I would certainly recommend participation in JSHS to other students, but with the caveat that they will have to devote themselves to their project. To get the level of enjoyment and reward that I did from JSHS, real time and effort has to be spent in putting a project and presentation together, preferably in a topic that the student is willing to spend at least a few months in painstaking research with."
Although Lynch did not place at the main event, he remains a huge advocate of JSHS and the value of research. “I recommend pursuing research outside of the classroom in the first place, but submitting the research to JSHS is a must,” urges Lynch. “Scholarships, awards, and opportunities to participate in the national competition in California… Why not?”
Mr. Daniel Coapstick, the AP Research and AP Seminar teacher at Stuttgart High School, was overjoyed with his AP Research students and their participation in the event, as it is rare that a school gets the opportunity to send two students to the JSHS National Competition. “This year, I have had the privilege and honor of working together with some of Stuttgart High School's finest youngest minds: Jimmy Lynch, Rachael Dickenson, and Eve Glenn. Two participated in the new pioneer course AP Research whereas Jimmy focused only on JSHS.” Mr. Coapstick was incredibly thankful for the help of the many volunteers and professional mentors. “With help from Stefanie Payne, Philip Bailey, Blake Little, Dr. Michael Thiv, Kirk Thompson, Physical Therapist David, Dr. Alex Crawford, as well as their parents and all other expert advisors and helpers, this amazing team of mentors assisted Jimmy, Eve, and Rachael through the rigorous research process of their respective topics... We provided moral and emotional support and expertise in the scientific and research method... I know I can speak for all of the mentors when we say we are extremely proud of their efforts!”
Mr. Coapstick further offered insight about this type of work and about AP Seminar and AP Research: “The research process is by no means easy, and it takes a motivated student to put in the hours, learn the methodology, and conduct the experiments... AP Research has been a great addition to our school curriculum. It offers students the chance to learn a great deal of the research process... and what they can add to real science... AP Research is a great opportunity for those students who wish to do real research, but they must first take AP Seminar, which will teach them how to read and write research papers. JSHS and AP Research can and do overlap, meaning a great scientific research project can also gain AP College Credit. With the team of dedicated mentors at Stuttgart High School, I think it is only a matter of time before Stuttgart churns out regular researchers... The work, the experience, and the extraordinary learning the student gains is a reward itself.”