The final post in our Senior Project blog series is here! On behalf of our school community: thank you for following along, engaging with our seniors’ personal blogs, and watching with us as they become scholars in their own right. The support of our community has and continues to be the bedrock to the continued success and confidence of our students.

While today’s projects fall into the sciences category, we felt they deserved their own space. They include explorations of deficiencies of available natural resources and identifications of how to provide new, clean ways to preserve our surroundings or advance our current energy technologies. Each project offers a unique perspective on the physical world around us and how the human footprint affects the ecosystem. Through their projects, these students are already making their mark in both the ecological and natural sciences landscape.

Janhvi G., a senior whose final product is an air quality-detecting keychain that is not only environmentally friendly, but also has a biodegradable case and a working companion phone app that corresponds to the keychain’s data, circles back to what sparked her project’s inception in her final blog post, “I learned about air pollution in AP Environmental Science (and we made air pollution sensors out of filter paper and potassium iodide) and that was one of my inspirations for my project. I wanted to make something like that, but more advanced.”

In his final blog post, whose project explored the mimetic frequency of mockingbird songs in urban versus rural environments, senior Sergey P. encourages future seniors’ participation: “First piece of advice for next year’s prospective senior projectors . . . do it! Don’t back out. You won’t regret it. . .  the main reason, at least for me, was the potential for independent discovery. On the three-month journey, you will learn not only about the topic you are pursuing, but also about yourself. It won’t always be a smooth ride, but that’s what the external and BASIS Independent Silicon Valley Advisors are there for: to talk over challenges and find ways for you to overcome them.”

Before attending our Senior Project Presentations on May 22–23, we hope you will take some time to look through any blogs that you haven’t yet had a chance to peruse. The Class of 2018’s participation in the Senior Project yields intense accomplishments that are evident by reading these blogs, and that will serve them well in the years to come. They have tackled an initiative of their own creation, maintained rigorous discipline at all phases of the research process, and, most importantly, endured to the end. They have taken great steps toward becoming the great thinkers, innovators, and leaders of tomorrow.

You will find the project abstracts of the seniors featured today as well as a link to all of our seniors’ projects below:

(Explore all Senior Projects here).

Environmental Science Senior Projects:

Janhvi G – CleanChain: An Environmentally-Friendly Air Quality-Detecting Keychain

Follow Janhvi’s blog here.

Air pollution is a major problem in today's world, and while there are many devices helping to combat the problem by educating citizens and monitoring and collecting data on air quality, these devices may be too expensive and add to the carbon footprint. I am seeking to create an air quality-detecting device that is cheaper and more environmentally-friendly than other devices by using materials found in air quality devices, such as a circuit board and sensors, that are better and more affordable, and placing this in a biodegradable case made from jute that can be hung like a keychain. The circuitry can be removed and the case can be thrown into compost. The device will be connected to an app. I expect to use my device in locations in the Bay Area and in third-world countries to bring about change such as much-needed legislation and investigations into air pollution. This project is significant because it is a unique project that no one else has done that virtually everyone can use, is more affordable than current options, and is made from environmentally-sustainable materials. It also stores data about air quality that is critical in assessing the scale of the problem.

Sergey P.  – Effects of Urbanization on Mimicry in Mockingbirds

Follow Sergey’s blog here.

The Northern Mockingbird, a common avian resident of urban areas around the United States, is well known for its rich, bubbling song. Beyond these varied original phrases, another key feature of the mockingbird's vocalizations is their ability to include snippets of other birds' songs. Mimicry in mockingbirds has been studied extensively, but the reason for why mockingbird mimic is still unknown. In my project, I will be attempting to answer this question by characterizing mockingbird songs in terms of the mockingbird's habitat: urban vs rural. I have picked three sites per habitat, and will conduct surveys and recordings over the project’s duration. The surveys’ goal is to obtain a list of all bird species for each site. The recordings will be audio samples of mockingbird song, and I will go through these manually, determining the time that each recording features the original mockingbird song, and the time that the phrases belong to other species. For each mockingbird song, I will attempt to identify the mimicked species and then sort each site’s species list by time each species was mimicked by the mockingbirds. Then, I will compare mimicry between the urban and rural sites. Perhaps, urban mockingbirds mimic more frequently than rural mockingbird, or they mimic species with which they share a different ecological relationship. Finding these patterns could give a clue as to how mimicry potentially helps mockingbirds thrive in urban environments—a vital aspect of their ecology that is not yet completely understood.



Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash