Learn more about student and teacher projects during the Joint Science and Technology Institute, a hands-on, summer science program for high school students and teachers as well as middle school students interested in STEM careers.

High School Student Projects

Electronic and Military Packaging

Mentors: Dave Vincitore, Robert Pazda, and Mary K. Peck
Advanced Design & Manufacturing/DEVCOM Chemical Biological/Aberdeen Proving Ground, Edgewood, MD

Students will build a model tank and use their skill to design armor to protect it given unique requirements.  They will be challenged to learn new techniques and use their packaging skill against the rugged military environment in order to deliver their ‘tank’ in good working condition.  With the support of engineers and specialists from Advanced Design & Manufacturing, the students will also use an open source CAD program and other rapid prototyping technologies to analyze, design and model tank armor for their project.  Students will learn about military specifications for packaging materials to protect their parts, and perform ‘real life’ testing of their packaged part against actual conditions and situational environments encountered by the military to ensure a successful delivery.  Students will tour the large Advanced Design & Manufacturing facility in Edgewood, MD and have guest speakers that will share their career experiences to help shape their own future endeavors.

Mathematics and Modeling Mania

Mentors: Michael Kierzewski, Dr. Tom Ingersoll, Sandra Méndez, Dominic Pham, Nirmala Pinto, and Doug Sommerville
Chemical Biological Center, DEVCOM, Aberdeen Proving Ground

Students will be introduced to the statistics and math modeling used by Operations Research (OR) analysts for a variety of tasks. Starting with the basics of probability, statistics, and the modeling of a physical system, we will then move into some hands-on experiments with statapults (catapult). This provides a physical setting for students to apply statistics and design of experiments--important components in generating and analyzing data for model development. Student will conduct toxicology modeling, and a simplified model for disease propagation as a simulation to demonstrate how various pathogen parameters and countermeasures impact the worldwide spread of a contagion. Students will be given a primer on how several real-world diseases behave then given the option to enhance their pathogen of choice to more fully infect the world in the simulation. The second phase of this project will discuss how math is linked with cryptography and secure communications, meteorology, and simplified atmospheric transport and dispersion of pollutants/hazards. We will then use the Hazard Prediction and Assessment Capability (HPAC) simulation from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) to examine what might happen from various kinds of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) releases at locations near and dear to the students. Rounding out their experience will be some introductions to various methods for individual protection from CBRN hazards, computing hardware, and binary math.

Cycling Smarter not Harder: A Study in Experimental Design

Mentor: Justin Rist, PhD Student – Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
The Pennsylvania State University 

When conducting a scientific experiment, ideally only one variable needs to be changed between the control and the test scenarios. This allows for understanding of how the changed variable effects the outcome of the system. What if you are conducting an experiment where it is not possible to change only one aspect of the system? Can you still reach conclusions when factors are changing outside of your control?

In this project, students will receive an introduction to probability and statistics methods that allow for sound experimentation when facing uncertainty in a system. We will illustrate these methods through two experiments: First, with a small-scale experiment in the classroom; second, real-world experimentation in the aerodynamic optimization of bicycles around a test track. If comfortable, students will have the opportunity to participate in replications of this real-world experiment (i.e., riding a bike around a test loop).

The Science and Art of Storytelling

Mentor: Gary Cipinko, Retired Professional Photographer

The purpose and function of videography are to inspire, create and provide ideas, and model how storytelling can be an impactful tool and resource to help showcase what learning looks like. There is a powerful connection between stories, the emotions they convey, and how storytellers leverage a variety of media for effective communicating today. Students will look at the technology of video and how far the medium has developed. This group will explore the components of visual focusing by studying anatomical models of the eye and dissecting out the lens/muscles controlling lens shape. Students will combine science and art to tell the story for JSTI East 2023.

Design Engineering in the Era of AI

Mentor: Michael Geuy, PhD Student - Mechanical Engineering/Additive Manufacturing and Design
The Pennsylvania State University 

In the age of machine learning and artificial intelligence, design engineering is undergoing a profound transformation. By leveraging the design flexibility of hobbyist 3D printers, AI algorithms, and human creativity, we answer fundamental questions about the collaboration between humans and machines. Through advanced additive manufacturing techniques and a hybrid design approach, students delve into CAD, generative design software, machine learning algorithms, and the production of additively manufactured components. Investigating firsthand the underlying principles, strengths, and weaknesses, students gain comprehensive insights into the future of design engineering. This course description was written by Open AI’s ChatGPT based on a human-made draft.

Flight Design and Dynamics

Mentor: Harrison Hughes

Flight Design and Dynamics aims to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the physics, aerodynamics, and design principles involved in flight. Students will learn about the physics concepts that underpin flight and how they apply to the design and control of aircraft. In addition, students will delve into the science of aerodynamics and learn about lift, drag, thrust, and other critical forces and criteria that affect the performance of aircraft. To apply these concepts, students will participate in interactive challenges to design and optimize their own aircraft models. They will also be introduced to programming languages and taught to use Python to control drones. 

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Middle School Student Projects

Raspberry Pi

Mentor: Master Teacher Raye Pedigo
Assistant Teacher: Neal Dexter

The Raspberry Pi is a low cost, credit-card sized computer that enables people of all ages to explore computing, and to learn how to program in languages like Scratch and Python. In this course, students will connect a Raspberry Pi to a monitor, a standard keyboard, and mouse, to discover its capabilities and see that it can do everything you’d expect a desktop computer to do, from browsing the internet and playing high-definition video, to playing games. They can use it for future tasks like making spreadsheets or word-processing, as well as a data collection tool for science, and make customizable electronic gadgets.

The students will use a breadboard, wiring, resistors, and LEDs to learn basic coding and electronic circuity. They will build a smart car robot, controlled by a Raspberry Pi, that uses sensors to learn its capabilities with interacting with the outside world. Students will discuss cybersecurity and its impact to their world. And finally, they will be given an opportunity to discover more projects using their raspberry pi.

Antibiotic Discovery

Mentor: Master Teacher Erin Havrilak
Assistant Teacher: Shaun Robinson

Students will get a firsthand look at how antibiotics affect bacteria. Students will begin the experiment by growing their own sets of bacteria.  Students will then get to test the bacteria against multiple antibiotics to learn how bacteria should and should not respond. To warp up the project, students will have the opportunity to relate their new understanding of the bacterial antibiotic relationship to real world scenarios from medical research.

Forensic Chemistry

Mentor: Master Teacher Carol Ochsner
Assistant Teacher: Katelyn Hanley

In qualitative analysis (an aspect of forensic chemistry) one determines what substances are present in a given material. In this course, we will apply spectral analysis to the visible portion of the spectrum and using known properties of solubility and reactiveness as well as visual spectra, students will analyze unknowns and determine the presence or absence of particular ions. Students will learn to use an array of laboratory equipment, techniques, and observational skills.

Water Quality

Mentor: Master Teacher Aaron Burke 
Assistant Teacher: Jessica Minton

How do streams behave without human interference and what are the characteristics of a healthy stream? How have the Jones River and Towson Run been altered by humans and how has that impacted the quality of the water? What can be done to protect or improve the health of these areas? In the lab, students will use a stream table to investigate how streams or rivers act without interference and compare that to altered streams designed by the students. Students will draw inspiration from the tour of the Jones River. Students will use the stream table to learn related vocabulary and conduct experiments to determine and understand slope. Students will tour the Jones River and investigate Towson Run by conducting water quality tests using sensors to test for dissolved oxygen, turbidity, and pH.

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Teacher Projects

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