Virtual Field Notes From Headwaters’ Research Experience and Digital Data Science Camp

Virtual Field Notes From Headwaters’ Research Experience and Digital Data Science Camp

Summer Research Experience

For eight weeks this summer, 26 students participated in the Headwaters Summer Research Experience, going through the scientific process. With topics ranging from electric vehicles to ant behavior, these students worked hard all summer long to create some fascinating, complex topics! Students pursued topics they were passionate about for one reason or another

I wanted to be able to study something I am passionate about, which is dance

My family has been impacted by Lyme Disease and that really drives this research

Students worked closely with Headwaters through class and office hours and were guided by professional science mentors who bring expertise and experience to working with students.

It was wonderful to provide high school students with the opportunity to create, design, conduct, and write up a scientific research project. Students were equipped with knowledge regarding research questions given their environment and accessible materials. With creativity and patience, students examined databases, water sources, air quality, and many other topics throughout their local areas. Throughout the data collection process students traveled within their home areas to measure plant density, survey college students, and study microbiological growth in petri dishes. These students ran the gambit for topics, creating captivating and significant data that was later analyzed through Data Classroom.

As the course came to an end, students finished writing their manuscripts and worked on presentations that they gave to their peers, mentors, Headwaters staff, parents, and friends. Our presentation nights were all lively and students did a fantastic job presenting virtually and fielding questions from the audience. Students worked hard to ensure their science communication skills were as effective as their data collection and research question development skills.

At least 12 of these students are going to pursue publishing their research project with the Journal of Emerging Investigators!

One student works on mapping domestic cats to understand exercise impacts. 
As part of a microbiology project, this student meticulously creates her different replicates. 
One student is doing research on the impact of tannins on plants.
Searching for microplastics, this student was able to borrow a microscope from a local school.  

Digital Data Science Camp

The digital data camp was held for the first time in August. Over the course of two weeks, students learned several objectives pertaining to data science and how it impacts their daily lives. From the beginning, students learned what data science is, what career opportunities there may be, and how it impacts their everyday lives. We discussed forms of artificial intelligence that they may interact with on a daily basis including Siri, Alexa, or other voice command AI bots. Students were surprised to learn that data scientists can be found in almost every field from medical science to non-profit organizations! After identifying fields they might be interested in the future, we discussed how data science will play a role in that industry as well. Students shared how they were surprised to know that there were so many different opportunities in the world of data science, no matter their passions.

Students learned to code, walking through this new tool to flex their data visualization muscles, and create graphs and graphics showing different realities from their datasets. Students took the reins in the second week as they identified topics to explore and present.

Students chose topics from fintech to automated driving and began searching for open-source databases to pull CSV (comma-separated values) tables. While working on individual student projects students learned about their specific topic, and how data science impacts that industry. Identifying safe, reliable, complete, open-source databases proved difficult, but students persevered. They worked hard to identify proper questions, databases, and analyses that provided insightful data visualizations for their mini-presentations. This was another fantastic group of students who were dedicated to learning and capped off a wonderful program with a great presentation night!

Watch all of the students’ presentations!

Sign Up the Spring Research Experience

We’re excited to have a new cohort of students pursuing research topics in the spring and you can be one of them!

Courtney Kudera

Courtney Kudera

Data Analyst and Research Experience Manager

Courtney is the Data Analyst and Research Experience Manager. A recent graduate from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, she is excited to share her passion for science and data knowledge with Headwaters. Originally from Wyoming, she is excited to make an impact in science education at Headwaters. In her free time, she can be found trail running, painting, doing yoga, or reading.

Students Explore the Importance of Water

Students Explore the Importance of Water

The importance of water should never be understated! It is a vital component of all life-sustaining processes and integral to chemical reactions. The human body is made of up nearly 60-70% water by body weight, with a decrease of 4% causing dehydration and losses of 15% becoming life-threatening or fatal. Drilling down further, water is considered a universal solvent, it plays an important structural role in our cells as it regulates their shape based on water concentration in various environments and facilitates biochemical reactions by being directly involved in dehydration synthesis and hydrolysis reactions. And this is only at the cellular level. As water crises and droughts highlight the lack of consistent water access around the globe, we know that water is essential for life.  

Our Headwaters Research Experience students recognize the importance of water quality to aquatic systems, and we help students create projects centered around the analysis of water quality in their neighborhoods and watersheds. These types of water quality studies are simple to conduct, but can yield impactful results  and raise awareness among local community members. 

Ethan Liu was curious about water in NYC and focused on comparing water quality between the neighborhoods of Chinatown and Bayside, which have a sizable difference in average household income. Ultimately, Ethan found that there was no significant difference in pH or total dissolved solids (TDS, like inorganic salts and some organic matter) for water sampled from restaurants in these regions. Ethan, and the community members who allowed him to sample their water, were reassured by his findings.

Ethan’s presentation is the first of our student presentations featured here if you’d like to learn more:

Katie Chen wanted to research the effects of fertilizer on the water quality of Saratoga Creek. Many land managers use fertilizers to increase crop yields, but nitrogen runoff can cause significant damage to the watershed and harm water quality in the area. Through her experimental research design, Katie found that the fertilizer significantly reduced the pH and increased the TDS of Saratoga Creek water. Katie did a great job designing, conducting, and analyzing her research and the Journal of Emerging Investigators accepted her write up for publication!

Read Katie’s paper here!

This week for Headwaters’ Back to School Fundraiser, we’re highlighting water! Donating to Headwaters helps us plan and run the Research Experience and students like Ethan and Katie pursue projects that impact their communities and contribute to science. Your support also helps us provide Lunch with a Scientist talks, like Dr. Tonya Shearer’s on coral reef health, to students around the country. Thank you!

Spots still open for Headwaters’ 2022 summer camps and programs

Spots still open for Headwaters’ 2022 summer camps and programs

Your one-stop shop for your student’s summer plans are right here. Registration for Headwaters Science Institute’s summer camps and programs are open, and spots are still available. But they are filling up fast, so act now. Below you can find all of our offerings for Summer 2022.

Truckee Young Scientist Exploration Camp

Give your child the opportunity to explore nature this summer. This hands-on science camp is designed for children to have fun while exploring the unique ecology of the area.

Campers will explore the Truckee Donner Land Trust’s new Truckee Springs park in Downtown Truckee. From this site, hiking, splashing in the river, and other fun activities are all easily accessible. Science is fun and engaging when children get to ask the questions that they are curious about. This program will show your child that science is all around them, while forging a unique connection to the flora and fauna of the Sierra Nevada region.

Overview

Ages: 5-12

Dates:
Session 1 – July 5-8
Session 2 – Aug. 8-12

Times: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. daily

Location: Truckee Donner Land Trust’s “Truckee Springs” parcel (drop off at the end of South River Street)

Price:

Session 1 – $315 (includes Headwaters T-shirt), CIT $150
Session 2 – $385 (includes Headwaters T-shirt), CIT $175

For more details or sign up, visit the camp page here.

 

Kirkwood Scientist Exploration Camp

Over the week, Headwaters instructors will guide participants through exploring the natural systems around them and developing curiosity about the natural world.

Campers will explore the native diversity in the Kirkwood area. We will take hikes and investigate the local ecosystem. We’ll ask questions about what we’re seeing, collect data, and find answers. There will be time for games, scavenger hunts, play, and time to cool off.

Overview

General registration: Ages 5-13
Counselor-in-training program: Ages 13-15

Dates:

9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday-Friday

Session 1 – Water Week, June 27- July 1
Session 2 – Plants and Wildflowers, July 5- 8 (Tuesday-Friday)
Session 3 – Rocks and Geology July, 11-15
Session 4 – Animals, July 25-29
Session 5 – Insects, Aug. 1-5

Price: $450/session (includes Headwaters T-shirt) ($375 for Session 2); $225 for CIT Program (Ages 13-15)

For more information or to sign up, visit the camp page here.

 

Serene Lakes Young Scientist Exploration Camp

Give your child the opportunity to explore Serene Lakes this summer. This hands-on science camp is designed for children of Serene Lakes families to explore the unique ecology of the area.

Day campers will explore the natural spaces around Serene Lakes, ask scientific questions, and design and conduct experiments to answer their own questions. Science is fun and engaging when children get to ask the questions that they are curious about. This program will show your child science is fun and all around them while forging a unique connection to the Serene Lakes area.

Overview

General registration: Ages 5-12
Counselor-in-training program:
Ages 13-15

Dates:

9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday-Thursday

Session 1 – July 18-21
Session 2 – July 25-28
Session 3 – Aug. 1-4

Price: $275 per Session, CIT $140

For more information or to sign up, visit the camp page here.

 

Girls Science Program

We will have a week of GIRLS ONLY science and camping at the Truckee Donner Land Trust’s Webber Lake Campground. In addition, girls can sign up for the Headwaters’ Summer Research Experience, for a full summer of science.

Foundations of the program:

1. Scientific  Research

Students work with an all female cohort of peers at Webber Lake and with professional female scientist mentors to create questions around their environmental topics of interest and develop these questions into a research project.

2. Mentorship

The students will be mentored by female scientists for guidance through their project. These career-scientists can help with recommendations for how to turn an idea into an executable project.

3. Female Empowerment

A female-specific cohort provides support for participants to explore the science field in ways that are unique.

4. Professional caliber scientific exploration 

Participants are given the chance to practice science just like a professional would, analyzing data and finally creating a research talk. If they would like to create a paper they should also join our Summer Research Experience and at the end, they submit their paper for publication. They can get all of their data collected for the summer-long program during this week at Webber Lake.

Overview

Camping: Participants will camp at our Webber Lake study site from July 10-15. Parents will drop off campers on Sunday, July 10th after dinner and pick up on Friday, July 15 by noon.

Location: The campground is located at Webber Lake in Truckee, California at the Truckee Donner Land Trust campground.

Price: $800

For more information or to sign up, visit the program page here.

 

Environmental Science Research Camp

An environmental science camp at the Truckee Donner Land Trust’s Webber Lake Campground for students going into 7th grade and older.

Foundations of the program:

1. Scientific Research

Students work with a cohort of peers at Webber Lake and with professional scientist mentors to create questions around their environmental topics of interest and develop these questions into a research project.

2. Mentorship

The students will be mentored by scientists for guidance through their project. These career-scientists can help with recommendations for how to turn an idea into an executable project.

3. Professional caliber scientific exploration

Participants are given the chance to practice science just like a professional would, analyzing data and finally creating a research talk. If they would like to create a paper they should also join our Summer Research Experience and at the end, they submit their paper for publication. They can get all of their data collected for the summer-long program during this week at Webber Lake.

Overview

Camping: Participants will camp at our Webber Lake study site from July 10-15. Parents will drop off campers on Sunday, July 10th after dinner and pick up on Friday, July 15 by noon.

Location: The campground is located at Webber Lake in Truckee, California at the Truckee Donner Land Trust campground.

Price: $800

For more information or to sign up, visit the program page here.

Research Experience

In the program, students will design and create an original research project mentored by a professional scientist, see through the project by conducting field research, (or compiling pre-existing available datasets), and learn how to analyze their findings. Students complete the program with a finalized research presentation and a formal research paper that will be submitted for publication.

Mentors:
Our professional scientist mentors are experienced in research and in mentoring students with a variety of research interests. They guide students to utilize a diverse array of research skills that can be used to study almost any topic imaginable.

Benefits:
Students emerge from the program with an experience they can add to a college resume, and life skills that will better prepare them for any career.

Overview

Location: Online meetings, independent research in the location of student’s choosing

Summer 2022 Program dates: Week of June 14 through the week of August 9th

Session Times: (students can select one of these based on their availability)

Tuesday – 2-3 p.m. PST

Tuesday – 5-6 p.m. PST

Cost: $1,350

Registration Process: Fill out either the financial assistance application (if you need financial help) or register directly. Registration opens February 1, 2022.
Regular registration until the program is filled. Financial assistance applications are open through March 1, 2022. Students will be notified by April 1, 2022.

For more information or sign up, visit the program page here.

 

Spring and Summer Research Experience Recap

Spring and Summer Research Experience Recap

We want to extend a congratulations to all of our students highlighted in the newest issue of the Student Research Journal, published last week! Amanda Becker, Leo Long, Isaiah Ferebee, Colin Saltzgaber, and Brian Browne developed original research ideas, collected their own data or analyzed existing datasets, analyzed and interpreted their data to find the conclusions presented in these manuscripts.

student research journal cover and table of content

The breadth of research in this publication is a true testament to the creativity of the students in the program. Each student worked incredibly hard to complete these manuscripts, and we encourage them to be proud of what this research represents. Each student fostered their curiosity while managing the setbacks, time constraints, and challenges that come with scientific research in order to author these papers.

“The Headwaters process completely changed my outlook on what I could accomplish as a young scientist. It gave me the skills and tools that I need to propose a question, conduct my own research, and share it with the scientific community. Additionally, being paired with a very knowledgeable mentor that guided me through the process made it very smooth and stressless, and being able to ask her any questions I had about the process or the science helped me to learn a lot.”

Brian Browne

These articles also highlight the fantastic job the scientist mentors did in promoting this creativity and in assisting the students throughout the scientific process. These scientists each brought unique knowledge to the program, and, as research mentors, they shared with students their own experiences in what it takes to conduct original scientific research. Thank you to all of the scientist mentors who provided the time and energy to not only make these projects possible but to help our students grow as scientific thinkers.

“Over the last 18 month during the pandemic, I participated in a research program through Headwaters Science Institute and got the opportunity to work with scientists as my mentors on two research projects. I not only designed my own research projects but had the opportunity to present and publish my findings. My experience was incredibly unique as there are very few opportunities for high school students to have access to college professors or scientists as their mentors.”

Colin Saltzgaber

Students participating in our summer Research Experience presented their scientific findings in August over three nights online to family, friends, teachers, and mentors. These students did a fantastic job and you can view their presentations on YouTube, below.

The research experience is a fantastic opportunity for students interested in science and looking for an impressive project to add to their college resume. More information can be found here – we run this program in the fall, spring, and summer so think about getting involved and let us know if you have any questions.