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Southern Connecticut Invitational Engineering and Science Fair Judging

This will be a brief post… but I’m really excited about judging the Southern Connecticut Invitational Engineering and Science Fair tomorrow.  Here’s the research I’ll be judging.  I’d like to remind you that this is the research of Southern Connecticut high school students, even though it is most often at a bachelor’s or sometimes even graduate level.

  • Optogenetic Interrogation of Prefrontal Cortex Dopamine D1 Receptor-Containing Neurons as a Technique to Restore Timing: A Novel Approach to Treat Prefrontal Disorders
    • I don’t know much about it yet, but I’m reading like crazy.  Found a great website that describes optogenetics
  • The Effect of Carbohydrate Inhibitor Tris-HCl on Creating Ketogenic Diet Conditions to Treat Epilepsy
    • Cool, I’ve been on a ketogenic diet, so I know a little bit of what is going on here.  I never knew that ketone bodies replace glucose as an energy source when passed through the brain and that apparently glucose in the brain can trigger epilepsy.
  • Sikorsky STEM Challenge
    • Designing an engine mount for a WWII F4U Corsair carrier based fighter airplane… Tim Allen cool! (cue his famous grunting noise…) Never flown in a Corsair, but I’ve been up-close and personal with one!
  • Individual Characteristic Analysis of Stamps Retrieved From Scanned Documents
    • Something I’ve actually studied while I was at Pitney Bowes. I’m actually a co-inventor of a patent in this area (7,889,885).
  • Creating a Cre/Lox Barcoding System: A Potential Breakthrough in Tracking the Heterogeneity of Glioblastoma Multiform
    • Just learned a lot about Cre/Lox recombination (thank you Wikipedia) and apparently this research is about using it to understand the performance of Glioblastoma Multiform, the most common and malignant form of primary intracranial tumor.
  • Finding the Optimal AlphaScreen Conditions for SMCX, a Histone Demethylas
    • Last thing to study tonight… AlphaScreen is a novel proximity-based assay developed by Connecticut’s PerkinElmer to measure gene expression and methylation. Methylation either promotes or silences gene expression, which of course can lead to either causing or stopping cancer. This research led to understanding the optimal conditions for this important test.

If you’d like to see a listing of all the projects, they can be found right here.

Unfortunately, Trumbull High School doesn’t participate in this event.  I wish it did.

And to my previous blog entry on the cost of today’s education… I’m quite certain that funding “just the basics” would not have allowed the participating school districts to create these opportunities for high school students.  And isn’t it important to our future that these opportunities are afforded students who want the challenge? Isn’t allowing students to pursue challenges where tomorrow leaders come from?  High school challenges come in many forms besides athletics.

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Posted by on February 3, 2012 in education, growing up, innovation, learning, taxes, thought

 

All they need is farming and military service… really?

I live in Trumbull, Connecticut.  Like virtually all municipalities, the town is forced with making difficult decisions about what parts of the budget to fund. And, again as in most municipalities, the school budget is a very large part of the overall budget.

Last night our first selectman (mayor, to those outside of Connecticut) held a town wide meeting on the budget.

Shocked, I read the following report on the meeting from an article in the town’s weekly newspaper, the Trumbull Times: “Carmen Denicola also urged financial restraint. He said he had lived in town long enough to remember when Trumbull High graduates ‘had only two choices, farming or the service.’

“Denicola said his generation had been raised differently than children of today.

“‘I see a lot of spoiled kids at the high school,’ he said. ‘Young people with children need to tighten their belt a little bit. You don’t need everything, you need the basics. With the basics you can do anything.'”

Honestly, all I can say is that this logic scares me. It scares me that someone would actually think this and it scares me even more that someone would actually say this in a public forum.

Tomorrow I’ll be judging at the Southern Connecticut Invitational Science and Engineering Fair. There I will see high school students who are working with college professors to research Alzheimer’s Disease, cancer, and genetic defects, to name a few of their projects.

I’m also on the board of directors of the Connecticut Invention Convention which provides a curriculum and competition around innovation to over 100 K-8 schools in Connecticut. One of last year’s winning inventors, a seventh grader, has created a lollipop that is particularly effective in curing hiccups especially for cancer patients on chemotherapy… and she was recently invited to ring the bell on the NYSE.

While I’m not advocating fiscal waste, I recognize that an education that allows children to reach for the today’s future in an increasing complicated world comes with a price.  That price is more than when children were taught enough to be farmers and soldiers.  And that education is necessary because our children, OUR COUNTRY, is competing on a bigger world stage than back then.

For some, it appears, that the American Dream of wanting better for our children is dead if the children are not their own. It is my sincere hope that this is not held by the majority of my Baby Boomer cohort.  We need today’s children, tomorrow’s adults, to be better, to have more than just the basics, so that we are ALL better.

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2012 in demographics, education, growing up, innovation, taxes

 
 
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