District 86 students put science knowledge on display
Sriranjini Muthukrishnan of Willowbrook looks at the results of her son Naveen Balaji's research project during the Science Inquiry Research Symposium Thursday at Hinsdale South High School. | Steve Johnston~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 1, 2012 1:31AM
DARIEN — After seven weeks of gathering information, researching and forming conclusions, District 86 summer school students learned another important piece of the scientific method; presenting their findings.
In front of parents, school staff and their professional mentors, the 27 students who signed up for the district’s Science Inquiry Research course showcased their completed projects Thursday inside the Hinsdale South High School library.
Hinsdale Central junior Rahul Ramani, in his second year in the SIR course, partnered with mentors Nina Grude and Jerry Krishnan of the University of Illinois at Chicago. Ramani was curious to know if written or video instructions were better for teaching proper inhaler technique.
Ramani created a video of himself showing the correct way to use an inhaler and wrote instructions to present to 32 random test subjects.
“I did think the video would be better but (Krishnan) thought otherwise because there was no audio to the video,” Ramani said. “(The study) takes a lot of time. In actual science, you learn all the processes, how to start, work through it and time management.”
Krishnan said the information from Ramani’s study, which proved video to be more effective, has given him clues on how to study the problem further and on a much larger scale.
“We found most people have a hard time reading the instructions,” Krishnan said. “We want to be able to give them the tools to self-manage.”
Outside the library, first-year SIR students presented their individual projects, with most of them already looking forward to taking the course again next summer.
Hinsdale Central junior Orian Shkrobut was curious to study Amos Emerson Dolbear’s belief that temperature influences the rate of chirping in common crickets.
Shkrobut collected his own crickets and measured their rate of chirping based on increases and decreases in temperature, finding no real relationship between the two.
“After the first few days, I realized no one was looking over my shoulder and telling me what to do,” Shkrobut said. “I figured out how to organize my work and time properly.”
Elizaveta Mangutov, a sophomore at Hinsdale Central, wanted to find any relation between temperature, humidity and salt to corrosion. Mangutov enjoyed the freedom the course offered as well as the help of the upperclassmen.
“It could be stressful, but as long as we spread out our time right, we were okay,” Mangutov said. “In the room, we had a lot of different age groups, so we could depend on the older students for help.”
Instructors Mark Wollschlaeger and Peter Pintz believe this is where science instruction is headed and preferred to “get out of the way,” to let the students learn on their own.
“We want to get students to do science rather than just sit back and see what another scientist does,” Wollschlaeger said.