Students attend and prepare for annual research events despite COVID-19 restrictions


Sabrina Zhu

Adrian Liu (10) works on his project with help from Jonathan Zhang (10). Adrian plans to present his research on biopolymer drug delivery for fibrosis treatment at the annual Research Symposium, which is organized by the WiSTEM (Women in STEM) club.

by Sabrina Zhu and Kinnera Mulam

Upper school students competed in the annual Synopsys Science & Technology Championship on March 10. Meanwhile, Women in STEM (WiSTEM) Club is currently preparing for the annual Research Symposium on April 16.

The science fair invited student researchers to present their findings to a panel of judges during 15-minute judging sessions. Like the previous two years, the championship took place online due to COVID-19. Harker sponsored around 45 projects this year, according to upper school science research teacher Chris Spenner, who admires student growth and ability to adapt despite COVID-19 restrictions.

“My favorite part is when students are brave enough to attempt a project that is connected to something bigger,” Spenner said. “They’re picking projects that are relevant to these really big complex problems, and it’s not that we hope to solve them with this project, but we have learned something more about that problem and start to chip away at it.”

For the past few weeks, WiSTEM has been organizing the Symposium, and with the event’s in-person format, the club has been working to ensure that safety precautions are met. At Symposium, themed  “STEM Will Save Us” this year, high school and middle school students are invited to present their work as either poster or speaker sessions and will explore how STEM topics such as climate change and cybersecurity affect our day-to-day lives. In addition, WiSTEM officers organize activity stations, where attendees can perform various science experiments.

“For the younger students, [we hope Symposium] can show them how expansive science can be and allow them to foster a love of science and show them the different opportunities,” WiSTEM STEM Buddies Lead Arissa Huda (11) said. “For the student researchers, it definitely is a really great way of practicing presentation skills. Symposium also allows the entire community to just see how much hard work and dedication students put into [their research].”