Morrill Middle School

September 2018 - May 2019

We are so excited to a school program at Morrill Middle School, one of our three new schools this year! In our weekly after-school enrichment program, led by team members Cynthia, Bowen, and Andrew, we will teach students the different facets of science and research. In addition, we will conduct many exciting science experiments (such as extracting DNA from strawberries and making ice cream)! Most importantly, we will mentor students through their own science fair research projects from start to finish. This year, we have 12 active students participating in our program, and 4 students who plan on attending the Synopsys Science Fair Championship in March. We are also planning to organize and host a Morrill Science Fair, which all our our students will participate in!

Club advisors:

Mr. Nathan Laing, science teacher

Ms. Elsie Carrillo, science teacher

Mr. Thomas Carroll, principal


BACK TO SCHOOL NIGHT: September 6, 2018

At Morrill's annual Back to School Night, we held a booth for our club (Science Fair Club). We talked to interested parents and students about our club and held sign-ups for those who were interested. In addition, we also handed out flyers. 


WEEK 1 (September 18, 2018): 1st Meeting!!!

At the first club meeting, we (Cynthia and Bowen) introduced ourselves, our program, and had the students themselves. We went over what science fairs are, specifically the Synopsys Science Fair and the Morrill Science Fair, which we plan to hold at the end of this year. Then, to get the students thinking about science, we played a fun science trivia game in which we asked estimation questions such as "How long does it take for sunlight to reach the Earth?" and "Which planet has the most moons?". The students played this game in teams of 3, and had 30 seconds to collaborate and discuss before providing a final answer, and the team with the highest points at the end received extra prizes! Everyone got snacks and candy at the end of the meeting. Parents were invited to attend this meeting as well.


WEEK 2 (September 25, 2018): Brainstorming 1

We started to brainstorm possible project ideas. On the board, we listed a specific scientific field - for example:  Healthcare, Sustainable Energy, Coding, Food Science, or Environmental Engineering. For each field, we held an open-ended discussion about possible problems and feasible solutions.  As the students discussed, many of them got extremely excited, and it was really interesting to see everyone's point of view. We had such long and fascinating discussions that we only finished about half the topics.


WEEK 3 (October 2, 2018): Brainstorming 2

We finished brainstorming ideas for the rest of the topics, then the students cut and organize their paper idea diamonds. They reorganized the topics so that their favorites were at the top of the diamond., and the topics which they were least interested in were near the bottom.


WEEK 4 (October 8, 2018): Shiny Penny Experiment

For our first experiment of the year, we conducted the Shiny Penny Experiment! After introducing the concepts of acids and bases and the pH scale, as a class, we formed a experimental hypothesis. For the experiment, we used 5 solutions: lemon juice (which the students squeezed from fresh lemons!), vinegar, salt water (kosher), salt water (fine), and pure water (as a control). Each student received 2 dull pennies, and placed their pennies the two solutions which they believed would be the best cleaners. Most of the students chose either lemon juice or vinegar, and none chose water. After five minutes, the students took out their pennies from the solutions. The students generally concluded that the lemon juice was the most potent cleaning solution, with vinegar second. The students got to take home their 2 clean and shiny pennies!





WEEK 5 (October 16, 2018): Brainstorming 3

The students received their own lab notebooks for brainstorming ideas, and for recording their project methods and results in the future. We then recapped our previous meetings, especially the penny experiment and what they learned. We had them write down 3 ideas in 5 minutes, then we discussed what each of the students had written down. Finally, we went over what topics they were most interested in in their idea diamonds.

Week 6 (10/23/18): Strawberry DNA experiment

We started off with a short activity of Plickers to see how much the students knew about DNA. We then prepared the experiment by giving each of them a graduated cylinder, cheesecloth, plastic bag, and some other materials. Each table group made their own “extraction buffer” so they could share. Then, they crushed a strawberry in a resealable bag, adding some extraction buffer along the way. Using the cheesecloth and funnel, they filtered the strawberry mixture into a graduated cylinder. They used a bamboo skewer to pull out the DNA after adding some alcohol above the strawberry mix.

Week 7 (10/30/18): Synopsys Workshop

Each student used their laptop or one of the school’s Chromebooks to fill out the online application forms. Then, they started writing their ideas for the project proposal in a document. We used a shared Drive folder for each student’s Synopsys project.

Week 7 (10/30/18): Synopsys Workshop

Each student used their laptop or one of the school’s Chromebooks to fill out the online application forms. Then, they started writing their ideas for the project proposal in a document. We used a shared Drive folder for each student’s Synopsys project.

Week 8 (11/6/18): Experiment Planning/Notebooks We spent this session focusing on planning for the students’ experiments. They wrote down their materials, procedure, and basic sketches in their notebooks. We discussed with each student about their project.


Week 9 (11/13/18): Ice Cream Experiment We prepared the ice cream experiment. Each student got two Ziploc bags, and we filled one with milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla extract. The other bag was filled with ice and salt. After going outside, the students shook their bags and the mixture started to cool, forming into ice cream. We gave them plastic spoons to eat the ice cream they made. At the end, we wrapped up the experiment with a short round of Plickers questions relating to the experiment.