Westinghouse Project

Wed Nov 7 09:29:00 EST 1990

G'morning folks,

About the following comments on high school students coming into labs for help
on Science Fair projects:

> Regarding the suggested Westinghouse Projects that came over the net
> from mmm at cup.portal.com and Roy's request (which I deleted by mistake):
> this brings up the question of whether a high school student who requests
> a Westinghouse or Science Fair project should be handed it from a research
> scientist.

and ROSS SMITH writes:

> I absolutely agree. We had a 'Westinghouse' student from a local high school
> here last year.  It was a worthless experience for everybody, and I have NO
> intention of doing it again.

Fair enough, but I've had mixed experiences with such students.  We've had
students come in wanting us to do some fancy cloning experiment for them (and
we've gently made them see the light).  On the other hand, we've had the
pleasant experiences.

Last year, we had a pair of students come to use and ask for help in designing
a basic anaerobic bioreactor.  We gave them the books, a few tips, and they set
up the reactor themselves using equipment available from kitchens and hardware
stores.  We gave them advice (and I believe we analysed some samples through
the GC for them) but they did all the real  work - setting the reactor up,
keeping it alive, etc.  They did fairly well... and I believe we should
encourage such students.

Another year, we had a student do some "Game of Life" programming in
conjunction with a population genetics professor, and the student did a good
job (by himself)!  Maybe the scientists/professors should chat with the
students a couple of times, giving them references to look at during the first
chat, before committing themselves either way.  I've also been a judge at the
local Science Fair (post-docs were "encouraged" to do these things at my last
place!), and you can tell the original projects during the demonstrations.


     John Nash <bitnet: NUM208JN at NRCCAD.NRC.CA >
     Institute for Biological Sciences,
     National Research Council of Canada,
     Ottawa, Canada.

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