The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 1, 2010

Summer science internships highlight CCHS students’ interests


CCHS students (left to right) Sonie Boor, Robin Du, Addie Bakewell and Stephanie Mundel shared their summer intern experiences sponsored by the CCHS STEM Academy during a presentation on September 23. (Photo by Cynthia Sorn)

The first Concord-Carlisle High School (CCHS) students to hold internships under the newly named STEM Academy shared their challenging summer intern experiences with parents, teaching staff, students and community members on September 23. During the evening students presented posters and gave short talks similar to the format used at professional science conventions. After an hour the crowd gathered in the CCHS Little Theatre to see and hear students’ PowerPoint presentations. The group included four Carlisle students.

The six- to eight-week intern opportunities were supported by a donation from the Concord Education Fund. Their experiences were varied, explained CCHS biology teacher Dr. Ellen Moore. Students were placed according to their interests and worked as lab assistant, medical or software researcher, data analyst or environmental data collector. Moore is the facilitator for the STEM Academy, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math and is a program of the Concord Education Fund. Moore, who receives a stipend for her work with the Academy, said other sponsored events include seminars and guest speakers. The Fund also supports the robotics project at the high school and in Concord’s middle schools. Next year they are hoping to include Carlisle’s middle school students in the robotics club, Moore added.

Gene research in Boston

Student and Carlisle resident Robin Du talked about her work at the Dana Farber Research Institute and the research being done on the NKX-2 protein and lung cancer. Du worked in the Matthew Meyerson lab, which is focused on lung cancer research. “I’ve taken AP Biology,” she explained, “and I know the basics” but she said she did not know beforehand about the NKX-2 gene. She said she learned to count cells, cell-culturing techniques and methods for splitting cells. “The lab was more high tech” than the labs at CCHS, she said. Du, who is a senior, plans to go into medicine and research.

Invasive species

Addie Bakewell, who is a member of the CCHS Environmental Field Studies Club, followed in her father’s footsteps by studying invasive species in Carlisle. Her father, arborist John Bakewell, has written about invasives (“Backyard action plans for invasive plants,” Mosquito, October 27, 2006.) Addie presented her poster on her research into invasive species on the O’Rourke Land located on Maple Street.
The Environmental Field Studies Club, said Moore, is in its second year, and is not sponsored by the STEM Academy. “It is run by Dr. Nora Murphy and Priscilla Guiney . . . both bio teachers,” she said. “We joined with them this year to have an event where all students doing research could present.” Working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bakewell used a hand-held GPS to map more than 30 acres during her six weeks. “There’s still a lot more to be done,” she said, appearing eager to get back into the field. Also a senior, Bakewell plans to major in applied ecology or environmental science.

Research on breast cancer

Senior Stephanie Mundel, also from Carlisle, gave a detailed PowerPoint presentation on her experience working with Professor Dr. Sharon Cantor at the University of Massachusetts, Worcester School of Medicine. “With help from Dr. Sharon Cantor,” Mundel explained, she designed test primers or short strands of DNA to assist in the research. Cantor’s lab is studying hereditary cancer and the associated genes BRCA1 and BRCA2. “I’m not done with the whole project,” she said. She plans to continue her work at CCHS at a lab set up by the STEM Academy. Her plans for college include a double major in tuba and political science, with an emphasis on environmental issues.

Pediatric hospital research

Sonia Boor, another Carlisle senior, worked at Children’s Hospital in Boston doing literature searches. “I would have liked to see more surgeries and patients,” she said, but due to patient privacy rules she was not allowed to observe surgical procedures. “It was good to be there though,” said Boor. She said she enjoyed being in the hospital setting. She said she would like to go into medicine.

Supervision important

Moore said one issue with the internships is making sure the interns are fully involved in their experience. Although each site was visited and mentors were assigned to the students, “We will check in more,” Moore said, noting that the students’ experiences were directly dependent on the mentors assigned to them. “We learned there needs to be more guidance.”

Many projects and experiences

The opportunities for students were varied and exciting. Non-Carlisle students participating in internships included David Corbie, whose poster was eye-catching: “My Summer with the Sphinx Moth.” Corbie, who lives in Boston, was a lab assistant at Northeastern University. Concord residents Cook Welch and Ben Rizkin worked with Vista Scientific at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell where they did software research and data collection. Robert Leahy, Seamus Vehey, and Elizabeth Zeng, all of Concord, worked with Dr. Bryan Windmiller on tracking breeding Blandings’ Turtles.

Kevin Clarke of Carlisle, who graduated in the spring, wasn’t present but his poster, “The Use of Lasers to Create Nanoparticles,” was available to view.

How to apply

Students interested in applying for an internship should wait until the spring to contact Moore. “The process begins in the spring when I seek out mentors who are willing to take on students,” she said. “In May, I advertise the internships on the STEM Academy website and students who are interested apply and submit their application with a recommendation from at least one science or math teacher. Students who have specific interests can approach me as well and I will work with them personally to try and find them an internship in a field they are interested in.” For more information:

Other STEM initiatives

The Academy sponsored two seminars last year in biotechnology and geology. Moore said she was thrilled that this year both subjects are offered as electives and are included in the CCHS budget. “This fall one of our physics teachers will be running an Optical Engineering seminar,” she said. “Hopefully this will lead to an engineering elective next year.”∆

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