Communication and Teaming
Group projects are a necessity in the educational curriculum of grammar, middle, and high school students. This project, however, is very different from other group projects because it is spread out over months of work, and we needed to pace ourselves and complete parts of the project before different deadlines. Also, considering this project was so spaced out, not everyone was available at all times for those months. For example, one of the struggles that we faced was when one of our group members, Sameer J., went to Pakistan for almost a month and communication became close to impossible: finding access to the internet was difficult in Pakistan and whenever Sameer was able to find it, there was a big time difference between the U.S. and Pakistan. We still made it work though. While one of our team members was half way around the world, we still were able to continue working.
Besides working with Sameer, we, as a team, had trouble dividing up sections of the research so we all had an equal share of work, and there was a great difficulty in establishing times when we could meet. We are a team of juniors, and as many know junior year is often the most rigorous year of high school. Trying to study for AP classes and the SAT, visiting colleges, and preparing for SAT subject tests are all among the various activities that we had to handle while creating this project.
Research and Innovation
Science is observing your surroundings, drawing conclusions from your observations, and creating something practical for the world to use. Science is about researching new and innovative ways to solve problems and finding new ways to actually see the world. For example, we saw the statistics of the number of soldiers dying in war. We realized that if we could provide more protection for them, then we could actually save lives. Through research, we realized that the Kevlar material, while durable it may be, it decreased the mobility of the soldier wearing it. So while watching a video with our teacher, we discovered that the properties of silk are much more compatible with the idea of a protective vest for soldiers. Silk is three times tougher(ability to take more kinetic energy without breaking) than Kevlar and five times stronger(ability to handle more weight without breaking) than steel without the negative drawbacks of lack of mobility and comfort. Something as simple and natural as spider silk has the ability to stop a bullet. Through innovative ways, we have fashioned an idea to combine silk with graphene plates and nylon to create a material that can save lives.
Lessons Learned During the Program
- Communication is one of the most important qualities for a group to have when working together and will be an important skill for later in life.
- Researching a subject that could help people is a very fulfilling feeling that makes working for months a lot easier and enjoyable.
- Learning how to get work done no matter what obstacles or struggles is as important as getting the work done itself.