Fernanda Valenzuela Vazquez
January 24, 2018
I participated in Youngker High School’s Future Freshman Night, where the current 8th graders took a tour of the campus and saw a couple of different things. I was originally supposed to work on a chemistry related demonstration, but I later chose to be in the life science side of the lab and I dissected both a rat and a frog. When I was dissecting the animals a little bit of me felt bad for them but it was alright, and it was actually really fun to see all their organs, I somehow mistook some frog fat for intestines, and they looked like cut up ramen noodles. I was able to see frog muscle and tongue while dissecting as well, it was really weird to see. I enjoyed being able to talk to certain kids about SNHS because they seemed really excited for it.
Science Fair Summary
So this was my first time going to a science fair, for grading and just attending one in general. I had a really fun time, I was surprised by how many projects there were. I didn’t think there would be that many students actually doing the science fair. I never had to do a science fair in middle school so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was impressed by a few of them, they were actually not that bad. I really enjoyed grading them. I liked seeing all of their ideas and creative ways of displaying them.
Westpark and District Science Fair
On February 8th, I had the opportunity to go to West Park and judge Junior High student’s science fair projects. I had a great time getting to see all the different projects the youngsters had come up with, some were very unique, and others not so much. It was cool to see how each student came up with a problem they wanted to test, and created a plan of attack to prove or disprove the hypothesis they had established. It looked like a good portion of the projects were effectively able to come up with a procedure and make it clear to us judges what exactly they were doing. Many had very colorful and original designs that I thought were quite cool to look at. Overall, it was a great experience to see all the ideas that West Park Junior High students had come up with.
On February 22nd, I again had the chance to grade more science fair projects at the BES District Office where all the top projects from each school were. The projects were definitely a lot more interesting and unique because they were the finalists from each school in the district. The grading rubric was a lot stricter, which I liked. Some of the projects were a bit disappointing and was confused on how some of the projects had reached the district level, but there were a few really good ones. All in all, the projects were fun to grade and I had a great time.
On the Zooniverse website, I did the citizen science project called “Gravity Spy”. This project entailed the identification and classification of glitches from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory. My contributions to glitch identification, along with everyone else’s, gives physicists valuable data on the frequency of glitches, evolution of glitches, and patterns in glitches. Glitch classification with sophisticated algorithms sometimes isn’t full proof, and thousands of glitches happen each day, so it is important for as much people as possible to classify glitches. By doing glitch classification, I am also contributing to the improvement of glitch-identification algorithms. Studying glitches are integral to increasing the confidence of astrophysical detections, specifically, gravitational-wave detections. This is because glitches must be accounted for to accurately measure actual gravitational phenomena.
I was able to go to both the West Park and the Sundance Elementary School Science Fairs. It was fun to look around and look at all the different ideas that these middle schoolers had. Some science projects were pretty impressive, and others were pretty much what you would expect from 6th-8th graders. I had never gotten the chance to participate in a science fair, so seeing these projects kind of made me wish I had. Overall, it was fun to see what these kids could come up with.
Westpark Curriculum night
Community outreach project
Being able to do projects with the younger kids was fun. When I was in grade school I remember SNHS coming to Westpark and doing a lab. I wanted to join SNHS because of that experience of them doing a small lab with us. Then when curriculum night came around I was excited. We got to choose which small lab to show the students. The lab I chose was to tie dye index cards, when the kids would take a seat they’d look at the shaving cream and food coloring in a weird way. But after mixing the colors and putting the index card in the mixture, and wiping off the colored shaving cream off the index card. The students were satisfied to see a colorful index card. I loved having to be able to show them something easy and fun, but very messy worth it though, because on my hand there was a small butterfly made out of the of colors.
Rio Salado Audubon Center
On October 21st, I, along with 8 other members of SNHS, did manual conservation work at a butterfly habitat at Rio Salado Audubon Center. I planted several, Asclepias erosa, or what is coined “desert milkweed plants”, for migrating monarch butterflies to feed on and host in. Other members also planted Calliandra eriophylla, or what is commonly called “fairy dusters”, for these butterflies to feed on. Along with conserving the environment for the survival in monarchs, we also removed invasive species of plants (i.e. bull weeds) from nearby plants.