Seven BHS Students to Attend AAAS Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas

by Emma Dauster

During the 2016-2017 school year, BHS seniors Matthew Bailey, Aiden Spradlin, and Bryce Spradlin, and juniors John Nguyen, Chase Bishop, Alex Eberhardt, and Sara Megown all received first place awards in their categories at the North Carolina Student Academy of Science. This granted them the opportunity to attend the 2018 American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Austin, Texas, that will take place on Thursday, February 15.

At the AAAS annual meeting, where thousands of high school students from around the globe come together to share their new and exciting scientific research, there is much to look forward to.

“I’m excited about the many museum tours as well as the opportunity to meet international scientists,” said Megown.

Not only can students learn about new areas of science and scientific breakthroughs, but also they have the special opportunity to share their work with others.

“By going to the AAAS meeting, I hope to make connections with scientists from around the world,” said Nguyen. “But most importantly, I want to share my research with others because I believe that’s the most important part of science.”

AAAS is an international organization that seeks to “advance science, engineering, and innovation throughout the world for the benefit of all people”.

To uphold this motto, AAAS allows people to obtain a membership for free and invites anyone with the belief that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics can solve worldwide problems to join.

Each year, AAAS hosts a convention for high school students to come together and share their science research with others. This year, three panels with exclusive guest speakers will be offered.

The first panel, called Reaching Beyond the Science-Interested Public, will discuss different approaches to communicating science to resistant, uninterested, or hard-to-reach audiences. This panel will also include guest speakers such as Jean Roo of UCLA and Nalini Nadkarni of the University of Utah.

The second panel, titled Developing a Narrative Around Your Data, will focus on tips for putting science research in terms that everyone can understand, no matter their scientific background. Speakers for this forum include Michael Webber of University of Texas at Austin and others.

The third panel is called Advocating for Public Engagement with Science and will discuss experiences advocating for increased support for engagement of the public within communities and various institutions. Guest speakers for this panel include Susan Renoe of the University of Missouri and Patty Debenham of Debenham Consulting.

For their project, Eberhardt and Bishop grew the superfood spirulina using artificial Mars dirt and artificial urine. Excitingly, their success in growing a source of food using common materials could have very important implications in the future of space travel. 

Bailey and Nguyen conducted their research on oligochaetes in Transylvania County trout streams. They specifically surveyed areas for T. tubifex worms, which are vectors of a deadly trout disease called whirling disease.

The AAAS annual meeting is a fun learning experience and a dream come true for any high school student interested in the communicative and research aspects of science. From forums on tips for communicating your research to the public to delicious food from around the globe, there is much to keep students busy. However, the most valuable takeaway is the opportunity for students to share their hard work with others and learn now to spread the wonder of science to people all over.

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