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 Pazada, and Mary K. Peck
ADM/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 Mendez, 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, the creation and testing of computer simulations in SIMIO simulation software; second, real-world experimentation in the aerodynamic optimization of bicycles around a test track. Students will have the opportunity to participate in replications of this real-world experiment.

Expanded Robotics

Mentor: Harrison Hughes
Georgia Tech Research Institute

The field of robotics is growing by leaps and bounds: from movie props to performing delicate surgeries. As an introduction to robotics and applied engineering, students will explore the gambit of emerging trends and future applications in the industry including traditional uses like welding and high speed sortation through to drones and humanoids. Students will then get hands-on by designing and building robots. Students will be introduced to programming logic concepts and commands that are shared across programming languages. Students will use the Python programming language to control small drones and practice programming ideas. Basic engineering principles from mechanical design and assembly to algorithms and coding will be introduced. 

Design for Additive Manufacturing

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

While 3D printing is becoming commonplace with both hobbyists and industry, many of the software tools and design strategies that have been used in traditional manufacturing no longer apply. This project focuses on leveraging cutting edge engineering design tools and approaches to produce parts that were truly unable to be produced only a few years prior. Beginning with first principles in 2D drafting, through 3D solid computer-aided modeling (CAD), and into the newest applications of parameter- and algorithm-based modeling such as triply periodic minimal surfaces (TPMS), students gain a broad understanding of design principles from the ground up. Good engineering design principles (for both additive and traditionally machined parts), thinking in 3D, design iteration, product life cycle assessment, and working in engineering teams are emphasized as students get hands-on with the most common 3D printing technology to print and test their designs.

The Science and Art of Storytelling

Mentor: Gary Cipinko, Retired Professional Photographer
Evanston School District 65

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 2022.

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Middle School Student Projects

Raspberry Pi

Mentors: 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. 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 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 Resistance

Mentors: Master Teacher Erin Havrilak

Assistant Teacher: Shaun Robinson

Bacteria are all around us! Some are beneficial while others are pathogenic. Students will be studying bacteria and their interactions with antibiotics. Students will perform two different experiments. Experiment one will look at growth inhibition in four different bacteria to four different antibiotics. Experiment two will take healthy colonies of our bacteria and add four antibiotics to see how the colonies react; will they die when exposed or will they resist the antibiotics? To wrap up the project, we will connect our learning to disease management, how we best prevent bacterial infections, and what to do when we get sick.

Forensic Chemistry

Mentors: Master Teacher Carol Ochsner

JSTI Alumni Mentors

In qualitative analysis (an aspect of forensic chemistry) one determines what substances are present in a given material.  Students 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

Mentors: Master Teacher Aaron Burke

Assistant Teacher Natalie Parsons

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

Planaria as a Model Organism for Screening Chemicals of Concern for Neurological Effects

Mentors: Dr. Hilary McCarren and Nicole Hall
US Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has identified more than 300 “chemicals of interest” (COIs) that would be threatening to public health if they were misused. The overarching goal of this project is to characterize the clinical presentation of acute exposure to COIs that have not been well-studied, with particular focus on COIs that may cause neurological symptoms. Preliminary evaluation of COIs for neurotoxic effects will be best accomplished in an intact animal model that effectively integrates the complex physiological effects of COI poisoning while still allowing for a high degree of throughput. This project will establish the predictive potential of planaria, a low-cost and easy-to-use model, in the acute COI threat space and guide prioritization of the most dangerous neurotoxic chemicals for continued countermeasure development.


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