Marlborough ? Advanced Math and Science Academy Charter School (AMSA) students and brothers Amol and Rahi Punjabi have started “Science for Shooting STARs,” a program at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metrowest's Pleasant Street Clubhouse that engages second- to fifth-graders in science fair projects.
On May 28, they held an intramural science fair where the groups presented their work to family, friends, and teachers and competed for cash prizes.
At the fair, 19 students presented their projects, which ranged from comparing the effectiveness of different sodas on Mentos geysers to concocting the best-tasting fruit punch soda. Three AMSA teachers judged the presentations.
First place went to “The Pilots,” the team of Nicki Hernandez, Annie Morales, and Jyothisha Chilukuri, who tested the flight distance of different paper airplane designs; second place went to “The Pop Girls,” the team of Amanda Ameida and Jennifer Demelo, who investigated the effect of temperature of Alka-Seltzer tablet explosions; and third place went to “The Rocks Stars,” the team of Paige Savitzky, Jordan Savitzky, and Angie Saris-Coburn, who explored the relationship between the hardness and density of minerals.
“All the projects were amazing and it was a very tough decision to choose the top three. Every student deserves our utmost recognition for this incredible accomplishment,” judge Kelly Antonuccio, a physics teacher at AMSA, commented.
The Punjabi brothers started the program two years ago at the Marlborough Pleasant Street Clubhouse, performing hands-on activities and demonstrations to teach complex science concepts.
“We extracted DNA from strawberries to learn about genetics, created Borax slime to learn about polymers, made a lemon battery to learn about electricity, and much, much more,” Rahi, 16, said.
Judge Christina Jagielski, who has taught biology to both the brothers, noted “Rahi and Amol have a natural talent to learn??”they enjoy pushing the information that they know to the limit, knocking at the door of infinite possibilities.”
The brothers have also been participating in science fairs since sixth grade, which Amol describes as “a journey so invaluable every student should have the chance to experience it.”
Since December, they have been spearheading the science fair program with the students in the club. The students formed groups, chose their topic, independently researched the subject area, and tested their hypotheses. Finally, every group made a poster board and put together their own presentation. One team, “The Soda Babies,” comprised of Ciara Moore, Niamh Moore, Averiana Dejesus, and Kaylee Debraga, even choreographed a dance to show to the judges.
“I love going to Science Club every Tuesday. It gets me thinking about science and how things work around me, and it's really fun!” Amanda, a fourth-grader at Jaworek Elementary School, said.
Amanda and her partner Jennifer Demelo went on to win the second place prize.
“This science fair is the culmination of our year and our program thus far,”Amol, 14, said. “The kids have worked really hard and all their excitement for science brightens our Tuesdays when we meet. But there are still millions of students out there who could make a great impact if they just had the same opportunity .We'se just trying to bridge the gap.”