With the annual Science Fair just days away, this is the best of times and the most chaotic of times for the science department at .
One afternoon last week, Whitney Hagins, science department head LHS, walked into her lab after school and found more than 30 students awaiting her arrival.
Each of them wanted something, needed something from Hagins in order to move his, her or their projects forward in preparation for the fair, which will feature about 250 projects produced by about 350 students.
“So that’s the chaos,” said Hagins sitting in office during a rare free moment last week. “But half an hour later, when they were all doing something, talking to each other, doing science – that’s when it’s the best time. Watching them do science is the best because they're doing it, not reading about it or watching, just doing it.”
From 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 14, the Lexington High School Science Fair will be open to the public.
The 250ish projects, completed by students working largely in the school labs in their free time after hours and on the weekends, run the gamut from blood spatter analysis to DNA cloning to testing the impact of sports drink dyes on yeast growth.
“If people come, they will be amazed,” said Hagins, adding that the thought processes, if not the depth of the experimentation, driving these projects are on par with college-or graduate-level work. “It is phenomenal. It’s everything from an in-depth study on how different types of soil affect the flow of a stream to kids isolating DNA from insects and looking for bacteria inside the gut of an insect.”
Lexington businesses like Shire and donate both judges and sponsorships, according to Hagins, who said other Lexington businesses, like and , also donate things like gift certificates.
Parents too are donating financially this year, making it so that Hagins was able to purchase some of the materials from the Science Fair account, rather than the general departmental account.
The top 35 students will go on from the Lexington High fair to compete in regionals next month in Somerville. But, according to Hagins, the value of participating goes beyond the chance of winning.
“By virtue of being in the science fair, it encourages the students to do their best possible work and to design a better experiment, control the variables, because they are going to be presenting it,” she said. “And then, to be able to also get feedback from people who could be real experts in the field, that’s another plus.”
For a full listing of the projects, check out the PDFs posted to the right, organized by teacher.