11th research symposium introduces workshops


Middle school students talk to a representative at a booth at the annual Harker Research Symposium. The 11th research symposium was held on April 9.

by Katherine Zhang, Reporter

Around 650 students, parents, alumni and visitors attended the 11th annual Harker research symposium, which centered around machine learning, predictive analytics and data science, on April 9.

The Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (WiSTEM) club held the symposium. At the symposium, students presented research, corporate exhibitors showcased products and keynote speakers lectured on topics pertaining to the themes of the syms posium.

Unlike in previous years, this year’s symposium also offered four pre-registered, interactive workshops.

“The vision of the symposium has always been to mimic a real science conference that any scientist would attend,” said upper school science department chair and WiSTEM club adviser Anita Chetty. “I believe that by having workshops this year, our students can look on this aa true, complete science conference.”

Three of the workshops were geared towards upper and middle school students. These included an Introduction to Bioinformatics workshop held by Dr. Marcos Woehrmann, parent of Maxwell Woehrmann (10); a Make Your Own Speaker workshop held by upper school physics teacher Scott Pflaumer and a Machine Learning and Predictive Analytics workshop held by Somnath Banerjee, parent of Sumantro Banerjee (9).

“I think it’s so much cooler to actually build a speaker yourself than to hear someone else talk about how it works,” Pflaumer said.

Younger children could participate in a variety of hands-on activities as well, such as a pre-registered lego robot workshop and an aquarium full of sea animals for students to touch.

“You have to show each person each creature, let them touch it and explain their significance, so that really contributed to the interactivity,” Raymond Banke (9), who managed the touch tank, said.

This year, attendees could also interact with student presenters and keynote speakers through Evenium’s ConnexMe app, which allowed audience members to submit and vote on questions.

Next year’s symposium will center around artificial intelligence and virtual reality.

This piece was originally published in the pages of the Winged Post on May 4, 2016.