Photo courtesy of Mythvestigations Club
On March 21 and March 22, fifth to eighth grade students participated in the Invitational Science Fair, an annual science fair hosted by Mythvestigations Club. Eighth grader Sanchali Banerjee from Rachel Carson Middle School and seventh graders Veda Murthy from Rachel Carson Middle School and Varsha Gunda from Nysmith tied for first place.
“The purpose of the Invitational Science Fair is to teach students basic experimental design and to guide them through the process of creating, conducting, and presenting their own projects,” president and senior Katherine Phan said.
Most elementary and middle schools don’t provide the opportunity to conduct independent research, so Mythvestigations Club helps young students with an interest in science implement their ideas.
“In school, you learn about the EDD [experimental design diagram], and you might do a lab, but you don’t really go further than that,” Phan said. “Research can be a pretty daunting process to navigate, so we want to provide a space where we can guide kids through the process.”
One way Mythvestigations Club helps students is by leading workshops that teach important skills such as brainstorming ideas, analyzing data, and presenting results. This guides students without prior experience through the research process while still encouraging them to use their creativity.
“There are lots of kids who really want the opportunity [to conduct research] but don’t know where to start,” Phan said. “We try to provide resources, materials, and answer questions through the Invitational Science Fair.”
Students can use the fundamental skills they learn from the Invitational Science Fair in the future as well. Some participants pursue more advanced projects in high school and/or attend Jefferson, which has a mandatory research program.
“We want [the participants] to learn basic research skills, like what sources to look at, and how to write a summary, which will come in handy at larger science fairs and for future projects,” Phan said.
Although Mythvestigations Club has been hosting the Invitational Science Fair since 2013, this year’s fair was very different from previous years due to the virtual format.
“The event is usually just one day, and we don’t have to account for no-shows or anything like that,” Phan said. “However, this year, everything had to be planned out in advance, and we had to reschedule based on any emergencies. Overall, it’s been a challenge, but we managed to do it.”
Despite having to move the Invitational Science Fair online, Phan still thoroughly enjoyed the experience. For her, the most rewarding part of planning the event was experiencing the participants’ love for science.
“There are times when I meet a participant, and they’re asking a bunch of questions and talking about their project. I can really see that they’re super passionate about what they’re developing, and it’s just great to see their excitement,” Phan said.