By Avery Imp, Greenwich High School class of 2023
The third annual Greenwich Middle School STEM Fair took place at the Greenwich Water Club on Saturday.
This event brought together middle school students from across town to participate in a science fair and celebrate their interest in STEM.
The Greenwich Middle School STEM Fair was an initiative of the First Selectman’s Youth Commission, a group of high school students committed to promoting the youth voice in Greenwich and bettering the community.
Greenwich High School sophomore Zara Haque, who organized the event, said, “It’s surreal for me to be directing it this year because I was actually a participant in it when I was in eighth grade in 2021. I just feel really lucky to have this opportunity to share my passion with kids who are younger than me and I really hope this inspires them to continue the great work that they’re doing.”
All Greenwich middle school students were welcome to submit projects.
Students could work independently or in groups of up to three participants. There were 12 projects submitted to the fair with a total of 18 students participating.
Some of the participants presented projects that they created as students in Junior Innovators, an elective course in which Greenwich Public Schools eighth graders engage in science research.
This course is modeled after the Honors Science Research Seminar at Greenwich High School and taught by the same teacher, Andrew Bramante.
Others presented projects that they made as participants in STEM to Stern, a program through the Boys and Girls Club and Greenwich Water Club that Zara also helps run. She described it as “a partnership in which kids who may not otherwise have access to rowing are able to row alongside an exposure to STEM curriculum.”
The projects were judged by volunteer students from high schools across Greenwich: Asher Benn, Ava Jackson, Max Lu, Amrutha Nandakumar, Melina Salame, Anna Stempien, and Caitlin Tice.
“I think this is a really amazing program that Zara has started where it really develops kids’ love for STEM and science at a young age,” volunteer Ava Jackson shared, “I think it exposes them to really good life skills.”
Andrew Bramante spoke at the event. He stressed that science research allows students to explore their unique passions, from sports to music to medicine, and encouraged the students to continue to pursue their interests in STEM.
“What’s different about you guys is that you can certainly learn the material as you go,” Mr. Bramante said to the young scientists. “You have the creativity and imagination that maybe doesn’t have any guardrails or any boundaries, and that’s what makes it so much fun and so incredible for this type of stuff to happen.”
He likened science research to playing a sport.
“Just like if you were going to play softball, if you were going to play basketball, if you were going to play field hockey, you leave everything behind and you go do that in the hour, the two hours,” Bramante said. “The kids that are successful in doing this can do the same thing. They basically walk away from the school books and get themselves into a lab and they’re focused and they’re having fun, and there shouldn’t be a minute of this process that is work if you truly are interested in what you’re doing.”
Raina Jain, a 2020 GHS graduate, Thiel Fellow, and social entrepreneur, spoke about her experiences with the Honors Science Research Seminar at Greenwich High School.
She explained that despite her lifelong love of science, she struggled in the traditional high school science classroom. She began to question her capabilities until she joined the Honors Science Research Seminar, which reaffirmed her passion for science and changed her life.
She described how principles like curiosity, innovation, hard work, and creativity often go unnoticed in school because they are unquantifiable.
“But the good thing about science research was that I was rewarded for these things,” she said.
In this course, she created a device to stop mites from damaging honeybee hives. Her project grew from there as she presented her work at renowned science fairs, pursued patents, and ultimately started two successful businesses.
The Greenwich Middle School STEM Fair concluded with a brief awards ceremony where the first, second, and third-place winners were recognized.
• Eastern Middle School student Sara Rahimtula won first place for her project “Does Our Desire for Convenient Spring Water Come at an Expense for Meaningful Microplastic Harm?”
• Eastern Middle School student Lula Wang won second place for her project “Simple Rapid Detection of Early Maturity-Onset Diabetes of the Young (MODY) via Random C-Peptide Biomarkers.”
• Eastern Middle School student Hannah Dcruz won third place for her project “Implementation of Rhizobium Nitrogen-Fixation to Increase Overall Crop Production, and Inhibit Fusarium Wilt.”