STEM Scene: Upper school clubs continue activities in quarantine

by Tiffany Chang, TALON Reporter

With COVID-19 pushing everyone to pioneer alternatives for events made unfeasible by shelter-in-place, upper school STEM clubs have risen to the challenge. Despite the inability to continue hands-on activities or hold on-site events, clubs are managing to stay active through a variety of innovative events and meeting formats. 

 

WiSTEM

On April 10, the Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics club (WiSTEM) held a meeting with their liaison to the non-profit WISER, which provides healthcare and schooling for young women in rural Kenya. Around 40 club members attended and discussed the effect of COVID-19 on WISER and Kenya as well as how to raise funds and provide moral support in this complicated situation. 

With the annual on-site Research Symposium canceled, WiSTEM officers are looking into hosting their annual event online in an effort to showcase students’ work in research projects. All keynote events have been postponed to next year’s Symposium, but students will still have the opportunity to present their research via Zoom conferences. 

“Since there are seniors and seniors won’t get to present next year, we’re trying to get as many students, who had originally signed up, to present virtually. We’ll basically be planning out a schedule with links to different student presentations along with five minutes of Q&A at the end of each one so that students will still have the opportunity to present if they had planned on doing so,” senior Aarzu Gupta, the president of WiSTEM, said.

On a to-be-chosen Saturday, WiSTEM will compile a list of Zoom links, organized by time slots, that lead to various students’ presentations. 

Medical Club

Medical Club was forced to cancel many exciting opportunities due to the lockdown, such as speaker events and visits to robotic surgery companies like Intuitive Surgical and Auris Health. 

However, the club has continued weekly meetings, where one of its members chooses a journal article published in the field of medicine and explains it. Elvis Han (10) spoke regarding e-cigarettes and its implications on April 15, and Cindy Su (10) discussed phage therapy and how it can be used to treat bacterial infections on April 24.

Additionally, Medical Club invited its members to listen to Learning, Innovation and Design director Liz Brumbaugh share some of her friends in the medical field’s experiences regarding COVID-19. Working with Brumbaugh, Medical Club created a video for healthcare professionals on the frontlines, expressing Harker’s gratitude for the work they are doing. 

The club is currently partnering with the upper school student council to involve the community in creating masks and other sanitation supplies for the homeless population.

Oeconomia 

To keep students informed about the coronavirus’ effect on the economy, Oeconomia has been holding weekly challenges and updates via email. These challenges include AP-style questions as well as open-ended questions in an effort to prepare students for the exam while also encouraging members to think about how the economy will recover after the crisis.

Oeconomia held a speaker event on April 28, where they invited Managing Director of Illumen Capital Daryn Dodson to discuss his experiences in race, economics, and social justice and his work in advocating for socially marginalized groups. Economics students had an opportunity to earn extra credit by submitting a well-thought-out question for Dodson prior to the event.

Additionally, economics teachers Damon Halback, Sam Lepler and Dean Lizardo all offered extra credit for accepted submissions to Equilibrium, the Harker Economics Journal. Students could submit articles on a variety of fields related to economics by last Sunday to be considered for Equilibrium. 

Math Club

Though the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) canceled the USAMO and USAJMO, Math Club announced another opportunity with the Purple Comet contest in its new entirely online format. Club adviser and upper school math teacher Dr. Anu Aiyer organized teams, which consisted of up to six participants who could work together to solve 30 multiple choice questions in 90 minutes. The test could be taken anytime between April 21 and April 30.

Programming Club

Finally, Programming Club has forwarded many opportunities to its members, ranging from online summer research programs to virtual hackathons. These include the Summer STEM Institute’s data science bootcamp, Tech & Social Impact Hacks’ Women in STEM speaker series, and TheOpenCode Foundation’s first-ever OpenHacks.