Success in Science

Members of Science Club win at this year’s Dallas Regional Science Fair

Brooke Adams

Despite hard work and the endless hours put into the final product, the high school’s success at the Dallas Regional Science Fair is not-so-widely recognized, according to chemistry teacher and Science Club sponsor Sandy Kulkarni. Many students, all a part of the high school’s Science Club, participated in this event. Some students even brought home awards or advanced to the state competition.

“I tell [the students] science fair is not just to win an award, it’s to get the experience,” Kulkarni said. “That’s what happens in life. Life is not always fair and you have to work hard to get research done.”

According to the results, six students won a total of nine awards. Many students from Allen did not win, and the ones who did had been working on their projects for multiple months and some even years, tweaking fine details to enhance their presentation.

“I’ve actually been working on this project for four years,” senior Meghana Nadella said. “It was inspired freshman year by a researcher working with clays in Africa against a bacteria there, and I wondered why we can’t use American clays as antibacterial devices against more common types of bacteria. That molded over four years into a water disinfection device.”

With the amount of time these students have been working to perfect their projects, it is reasonable that they would run into some roadblocks along the way according to Kulkarni.

“The most challenging aspect of the project for me was getting acclimated to an actual laboratory setting because I had never conducted research in an actual lab before this,” sophomore Priya Mandava said.

However, many of them do not have to face these hurdles alone. They often times have mentors to motivate them throughout the process.

“Sometimes things don’t work, and I can connect them with some professors if they need some more help or need to do some experiments,” Kulkarni said, “I open my classroom, and they work here with me as well.”

After the entire project is complete, Nadella said there is a feeling of relief and success, where she is proud of herself for all she has accomplished.

“My favorite part of every year is the night before the fair when I finish the board and stand the double board up and admire the months of work that I have compiled into 20 slides and a dozen pictures,” Nadella said.

The students a part of Science Club such as Mandava and Nadella said they recognize its good qualities and importance, but Kulkarni said that many students often misinterpret Science Club and what it’s like to be a part of the science fair.

“Everybody thinks when you’re in science class that it’s a boring class, where you need to do problems and all that, but Science Club is all about fun, and they get closer to science,” Kulkarni said. “This leads to a passion for science.”

Mandava said that participating in science fair also provided her with useful skills that will help her in the future.

“I was able to learn so much about laboratory settings, various equipments and tests, experimental methods, experimental regulations and more,” Mandava said. “Through hours of dedication and [my mentor’s] help, I was able to adapt to a university lab.”

Although Mandava’s project specifically involved the use of a lab, Kulkarni said that a science fair project does not have to be like the traditional experiments most people imagine.

“It doesn’t have to be exactly like working on an experiment in the lab,” Kulkarni said. “It can be anything, like how the color affects somebody’s mood to the effect of music on students’ performance. That alone brings [students] to think that they want to pursue a career in science.”

Nadella said that the foundation of science projects is asking questions that lead to discovery, and students who share this passion meet together in Science Club.

[Students] like to have that social atmosphere in which we have; they feel that’s like a family to them,” Kulkarni said. “Here we have sophomores, juniors and seniors who all come together and share each other’s thoughts. That’s the best thing.”