Friday, February 1, 2013

MGHers team up to support annual science fair

TACKLING SCIENCE: Quincy demonstrates his science fair project

Crunch. The sound is recognizable to anyone who has watched a football game. It’s the tell-tale crack of a player’s helmet making contact with another helmet, another player or even the playing field. Like countless students throughout the country, avid football enthusiast Quincy Taylor’s helmet took a beating in the past few weeks, but the impacts didn’t stem from a game, or a practice – instead they were all part of his seventh grade science fair project.

“I like football a lot so I wanted to look at the different types of hits that might give you a concussion,” said the 13-year-old James P. Timilty Middle School student. To investigate, he inserted toothpicks into an orange and put it inside a Tupperware container, which was tucked securely inside of the helmet. Using bungee cords, Quincy then suspended the helmet in mid-air between a chair’s legs and swung 3- and 5-pound weights – from above, in front and from the sides – to measure how deep the toothpicks penetrated the orange, used to represent a brain.

Quincy was one of 55 students in the seventh and eighth grades at the Roxbury school who were paired last fall and met biweekly with an MGH mentor who helped them to develop their research projects. This marks the 24th year of the Center for Community Health Improvement’s MGH/Timilty partnership, which also included about 75 MGH volunteers who served as judges during the fair, held Jan. 28 through Jan. 30.

“I judged the fair for the first time last year, and I had so much fun that I decided to come back,” said Kathleen Walsh, RN, of the Department of Internal Medicine. “It’s very interesting to speak with the students, and you get to see a lot of incredibly creative projects.”


SUPPORTING SCIENCE: MGH volunteer judges Megan Huizenga, research technician in the Department of Neurology, and Nina Meyersohn, MD, a resident in the Imaging Department

This marked the first time Quincy’s mentor, Brian Short, a clinical systems analyst in the Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Management, volunteered for the program, and he said the experience is one he’d welcome in the future. “It was equally fun and rewarding,” Short said. “It really was a win-win situation for me and Quincy, and I think we both benefited from the program. I got to mentor and teach, and he got to learn from a successful college graduate. We are both really into sports, and so things really lined up. It was truly a great program and valuable experience.”

Quincy agrees. “At first I was kind of nervous, but he turned out to be really cool. It was a fun project to do.”

To become a mentor or to volunteer for MGH Youth Programs, contact Margo McGovern at (617) 724-3210 or  

Read more articles from the 02/01/13 Hotline issue.

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