Driscoll Science Solstice – Year 2

For the second year, on Friday, December 14th we hosted students for the Driscoll School Science Solstice. The Brookline school’s Science Solstice is “a day when the whole school suspends its regular routine to do science. Our goal is to increase students’ enthusiasm and interest in science and technology as well as in becoming scientists.” As part of this day, their middle school students “leave the building to explore local research labs or facilities.” As part of this year’s solstice, the school visited five labs on Northeastern’s campus, the Clinical Exercise Physiology Lab in Behrakis, the Goldstein Simulation Lab in Behrakis, Professor Shefelbine’s Bone Lab in Egan, Professor Sternad’s Action Lab in Mugar, and the Civil Engineering department’s Earthquake Lab.

The Center for STEM Education hosted 12 students, who started the day by visiting the Earthquake lab and learning about natural frequency (building vibrations) and Earthquakes. They then designed their own buildings using K-NEX pieces and tested their structures on the lab’s Earthquake simulator (shake table). Of the four groups, two towers failed in the second round, 1 tower partially failed in the third round, and the remaining two towers fully collapsed in the fourth round, where each round the shaking intensity increased. Afterwards, the students were allowed to feel an earthquake for themselves by standing on the shake table as an earthquake was simulated.

After the visit to the lab, the students took a campus tour, exploring various sites on campus: the Cy Young statue (the location of the first world series!), the Natatorium, Krentzman quad, the husky statue in Ell, the art gallery in Ell, and the science quad (and it’s semi-secret echo spot). Afterwards, the students ate lunch on the wooden steps in the indoor quad in CSC (2nd floor), during which they asked Francheska and I (Nick) various questions about Northeastern and College, a la the College 101 activity. After that, it was sadly time to go – but hopefully the experience peaked the students’ interest in science and exposed them to some possible careers in science and technology.