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Bright young scientists present research

Written by Lauren Horn, project imple­men­ta­tion coor­di­nator in the Center for STEM Education.

The 66th annual Boston Public Schools Science Fair drew more than 250 middle- and high-school students to Northeastern University, where the bright young scientists presented their research on electrolytes, paintball ballistics and breast cancer cells to both science and engineering professionals.

The event, held in the Cabot Center last Saturday, was hosted by Northeastern’s Center for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Education.

Both Massachusetts Secretary of Education Paul Reville and Boston Public Schools Superintendent Carol Johnson addressed the students, who found inspiration in unexpected places.

“My two teammates and I were in the gym and noticed we all have different hand positions when we shoot basketballs,” said Johan Guerrero, a sixth-grader at the Curley K-8 School in Jamaica Plain. “We were wondering whether it was more accurate to shoot from chest level, chin level or over the head.”

Guerrero and two of his classmates — Jeddie Nyei and Mohammad Umair — devised an experiment to test their hypothesis that shooting a basketball from above your head would lead to more hoops. They were right. “I think it’s more accurate because it’s closer to the rim above,” Nyei explained.

Nearly half of the judges were Northeastern faculty, staff or alumni.

Judge Sheldon Wilson, a graduate student in finance in the College of Business Administration, praised the science fair. “It was fun seeing the Curley students present their projects,” he said, adding that he regularly tutors Curley students “because at their age I had this kind of mentorship and it greatly benefited me.”

Hayden Codiga, a sixth-grader at the Curley school, won the science fair’s third prize for middle school students for his project on surface tension, which he first explored during Northeastern’s 2011 ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp. The free, two-week program — run by the Center for STEM Education — gives students the chance to work alongside Northeastern faculty, staff and students on projects aimed at increasing their knowledge of science, technology, engineering and math.

Nafisa Wara, a ninth-grader at Boston Latin School, won the top prize for high-school students for her project entitled, “Effect of Biological Compounds on the Contraction of Glycerinated Muscle Tissues.” Nathan Han, a seventh grader at Boston Latin School, won the middle-school Christa McAuliffe Prize for his project entitled “A Study of Correlation between Human Skin Receptive Field and Age.”