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.

Inspiring Women Mentor Headwaters Students

Inspiring Women Mentor Headwaters Students

Headwaters Science Institute is proud to connect our students with science mentors in many of our programs. And on International Women’s Day, introducing some of the incredible women who are passionate about inspiring the next generation of scientists. These women are all dedicated and accomplished researchers who are advancing science in their fields, and taking the time to share their experiences with Headwaters students!

Some of the incredible women who are making a difference with Headwaters Science Institute’s programs are Gabriela Rios-Sotelo, Kerri Spuller, Ashley Pierce, Anna Holmquist, Aviva Fiske, and Hanna Kahl. We are always grateful when they are able to allocate some of their time to help us reinforce our mission of “fostering curiosity through science.”

Gabriela Rios-Sotelo‘s research on White nose syndrome in bats is crucial for understanding and combating this deadly fungal disease. In addition, her work as a science educator has brought natural history and science lessons to people of all ages.

Kerri Spuller‘s research on landscape change and climate change in drylands has important implications for understanding how our planet is changing. Her work as an environmental scientist also helps ensure that our water and soil are safe and healthy.

Ashley Pierce‘s work in atmospheric pollutants is essential for understanding and addressing some of the most pressing environmental problems we face today. As an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow placed at the National Science Foundation, she works on programs that are cross-disciplinary with a focus on sustainability.

Anna Holmquist‘s research on spider biodiversity and the urban heat island effect is fascinating and important for understanding how our cities impact the natural world. Her passion for science education and making science accessible to all is also inspiring.

Aviva Fiske‘s research on sturgeon genetics is crucial for understanding and conserving these endangered fish populations. Her work with the GOALS program also helps ensure that more girls have the opportunity to experience the wonders of science and the outdoors.

Hanna Kahl‘s research on citrus pest management is essential for ensuring that farmers can produce healthy and sustainable food. Her work as a middle school teacher and in Women in Data also highlights her dedication to science education and empowering women in STEM.

Mentors play a critical role in inspiring young students to pursue science. They act as a guiding light by providing advice, answering tough questions, and empowering students to navigate the complexities of science with confidence. With a mentor’s support, students can feel inspired and equipped to take on the challenges of science, and pursue their dreams with passion and purpose. This is why we pair the best mentors with our Headwaters programs! The students see what is possible when they see themselves in and connect with these amazing women scientists.