STEM Spotlight: Research Club


Michelle Liu

“STEM Spotlight” is a new Aquila repeater showcasing STEM clubs and their initiatives.

by Mark Hu, STEM Editor

STEM Spotlight is a new repeater exploring what clubs at Harker have been doing during remote learning. This week’s featured club is the Research Club, which strives to spread interest in scientific research and guide students through the research process.

Led by club adviser and upper school physics and research teacher Chris Spenner since 2010, the club has invited various guest speakers and held workshops ranging from preparation for the Synopsys Science & Technology Championship to presentations on summer research opportunities, which have continued into remote learning.

The club runs a mentorship program between upper and underclassmen to guide them through the scientific research process and has also held mock science fairs before Synopsys. They have continued their workshops virtually and plan on holding an online mock science fair this year to prepare for a virtual form of Synopsys.

“We’ve been able to continue all of our workshops virtually,” Alice Feng (11), co-vice president of the club, said. “We’re also able to continue having Q & A sessions through Zoom. We don’t get as close of a connection with the members through Zoom as if it were in person, but we’re still able to give out all the information that we usually give out.”

During remote learning, the club has continued preparing for Synopsys through workshops, such as a presentation on poster boards, where club officers explained the various components of a board and provided examples for students to look at. At the beginning of the year, the club also held an information session on the science fair, giving tips on what to expect. In addition, the club began a new Journal Club this year, where students discuss scientific papers chosen by club members and learn how to read research papers.

“We’ve had more students showing up to the guest speaker series and workshops because it’s so much easier for students to zoom in,” Spenner said. “What’s hard is that as with everything else, we don’t get to know each other quite as well. When you’re on Zoom, it’s not the same as being in person.”

Betsy Tian (12), research club president, speaks at a Synopsys prep meeting held by the club. Officers went over key deadlines and important aspects in the process to prepare for the virtual event. (Mark Hu)