Thursday, March 22, 2012

CACC Students Dominate at St. Louis Symposium

Graciously written by our Laboratory Science instructor, Christine Roberson, who has served as teacher and mentor to our students:

Spirits were high, and students appropriately rowdy, as the short bus and one brave car caravanned 12 students, (including Rock Bridge, Hickman, and Hallsville High School students) from the Career Center to St. Louis for the Junior Science Engineering and Humanities symposium, held March 15- March 17.  Long hours of research, writing and practice during evenings, weekends and summer were distilled into mere minutes of student presentations.  Nikhilesh Sharma led the charge by presenting his paper on Thursday night during the informal sharing sessions.  He then joined fellow debate team members Micah Fletcher, Michael Pisano and Abby Thompson to defeat two other teams to advance to the debate final.

Fresh from Thursday night’s debate victory, Friday morning saw Michael Pisano, Nick Sun and Walter Wang going head to head in the general biology competitive section.  After cheering each other on, and wondering how well the presenters had placed, all students attending symposium then quickly rushed to their industrial field trips, hosted by places such as Solutia, Sigma, Monsanto and the Danforth Plant Sciences Center.

Following the industry field trips, the debate team rallied together.  After arguing the more difficult pro side of the resolution, and being bombarded by questions from the audience, the debate team suspected they had not been embraced by their peer judges.  They would have to wait until Saturday morning to find out.

However, on Friday night, the waiting to find out the winners of the general biology section was over.  Walter Wang was awarded second, and a visibly shocked Michael Pisano was awarded first place in the general biology section for his research on the effects of Bt toxin on earth worms.  First place earned Michael an expense paid trip to Bethesda, Maryland for the national JSHS symposium, and more work to prepare to talk to the 250 person symposium Saturday morning. 

The competitive presentations to determine who would present at National JSHS began early Saturday morning.  Voted on by all student attendees at symposium, the top 2 would do formal presentations at nationals, and third place winners would present a poster at nationals.  Time ticked by slowly as the student votes for best presentation were tallied.

However, the waiting was over for the debate team.  Thanks to the long hours put in by team members and coach Nick Flinn, another Rock Bridge student, the debate team won, bringing back a large trophy and $1000 to fund future student research.

Winning the debate was not the last piece of good news for the CACC symposium attendees.  Michael placed 4th in the entire symposium, and will be presenting a poster of his research at nationals.

Despite late nights and long days, the bus ride to Columbia was boisterous.  Students compared trophies and industrial field trips, discussed student research, and even talked about doing a project next year. The CACC students attending JSEHS returned to Columbia exhausted, victorious, and inspired to try again in 2013.

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