• Early STEM programs payoff for Peninsula High senior.
The field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is vast and growing each year as more and more students participate.
At Peninsula High School, many students take the Science Research class in which students work on their own science project and present the results of their work at the annual Science Fair.
Senior Alisa Hathaway has been a part of science research since her freshman year and is a prominent figure in the science field. She participated in her first science fair in fourth grade, and she took first place at this year’s science fair in the field of physics.
“I came up with my experiment this year because I am aware of all the current shooting at schools and violence internationally, and I wanted to do something about it,” Hathaway said.
“The issue is that bombs and IEDs are so easy to make in comparison to the amount of money and time it takes to detect them, and I wanted to make it better,” she said.
The Science Research class is led by Melissa Klose, a Peninsula alumnus who has been teaching chemistry for three years and also has a Bachelor’s Degree in Science for Environmental Science from UCLA.
Klose helps students come up with ideas as well as guide them throughout the whole process of completing their experiments.
“Students usually just read a lot of articles at the beginning of the year to try to find something that they are interested in,” Klose said.
“I can help them develop a project based off what they find. I also hold seminars where students exchange ideas. Some students get research opportunities at labs, including LA Biomed, Cabrillo Aquarium and USC, and their mentors guide them to develop a project of their own.
“Some students also develop their questions based on concepts they learn in their normal science classes, and try to tie in what they learned to their project.”
Hathaway’s project was titled “Detection of Improvised Explosive Devices using a Phased Array Radar System.”
“Initially, I had to figure out what I wanted to do — then, I built a circuit board and designed it, then created my antennas and designed those, and tested my RADAR design and accuracy of it,” Hathaway said.
Hathaway is currently also involved in Technology Student Association as well as Cyber Patriots. She plans to pursue Electrical Engineering and Computer Science during college.
“I enjoy working with students one-on-one because it allows me to get to know each student and their interests, and gives students the attention they need to succeed in this class,” Klose said.
“I want my students to understand the scientific process, and to realize that science is a creative subject, involving problem solving and critical thinking skills. I think it is a great opportunity for them to learn about what interests them most, and to learn about the process of science. They get a deeper understanding of the concepts that way, and the learning is more meaningful.”