Who is more resilient to trauma, women or men? How does hand-eye dominance affect basketball free throw shooting percentages? Can listening to certain types of music help with memory?

These were just some of the questions that seventh- and eighth-graders from the James P. Timilty Middle School in Boston sought to investigate at the recent MGH/Timilty Science Fair. The partnership – which brings together MGH volunteer mentors with Timilty Middle School students – is now in its 27th year.

During the past four months, 46 students met weekly with their mentors, came up with interesting topics, learned more about the scientific method and had the opportunity to bond with professionals from a variety of disciplines and departments throughout the hospital.

Some students developed projects that related to their specific interests. Jayden Aponto, who looked at hand-eye dominance and basketball free throws, said, “My mentors really helped me. They asked me what I liked, and we talked about what I was really interested in. Then, we came up with a list of topics.”

Others said they learned important skills that will serve them well in the future. Paula Villaruel said her mentor assisted with time management and helped her to stay on track.

First-time mentor Stefania Khoda, a research assistant in the Harvard/MGH Center of Genomics, Vulnerable Populations and Health Disparities, said she will be back next year, hopefully paired with the same student.  “We were both first timers and we are really looking forward to working together next year. I learned more from my student than I could ever have taught her. It was an absolutely wonderful experience.”

Not every project went off without a hitch. Trent Woodward, whose project centered on fuels and model cars, found that his structure was not strong enough to support his project. “It was a lot of work. It was trial and error. The fact that I put so much hard work into it was kind of disappointing.” But, he was quick to add, “I’ll keep trying.”

Twelve MGH Timilty Science Fair students were chosen to go on to the Citywide Science Fair in early March.

For more information about MGH Youth Programs, contact mjmmcgovern@mgh.harvard.edu or 617-724-3210.



Read more articles from the 02/17/17 Hotline issue.