Research and Innovation

At Ridgefield High School

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Student Perspective: Randy

Student Bio: Randy Deng


The RHS Science Research course is more than just a course. It’s a program that allows students to conduct independent research and move into the real world of science. During the summer of 2014, I went to Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia under the mentorship of Professor Dean Krusienski to conduct original experimentation on brain-computer interfaces (BCI). A BCI is a system that translates thoughts into commands so that people are able to control objects by thought alone.

My goal was to discover what visual stimuli size would be optimal to control a BCI. The idea was to use visual stimuli to create a brain signal that could be translated into a command. My results could then help improve accuracy in BCIs, making them more reliable. On Saturday, February 7, I presented my research at the Southern Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair (SCSEF) and was recognized for my hard work. It was refreshing to know that three years of hard work amounted to something, and that it did hold weight to other fellow researchers.

But this course is much more than just research and science fairs. This course taught me life skills. Data mining, presentation skills, and emailing professionals were all skills I had to master in the past 3 years as a Science Research student. Another skill I learned was dealing with failure. It’s very easy to avoid big words in journal articles or feel hopeless after a mentor rejection, but it’s important to remember that that is not the end. I have been denied several mentorship requests, read countless daunting journal articles, and lost science fairs, but moving on from failure is just as important as being successful, if not more. It shows not only your problem solving skills, but also your determination as a researcher.


Randy about to undergo his own experiment to see how well his brain signals can be classified


Area where Randy’s experiment is taking place


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Southern Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair 2015

This past weekend, the Ridgefield High School Science Research Program attended the 15th annual Southern Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair. Each student competed with a proposed or completed research project they’ve been working on since their first days in the course.

The effort displayed by the students was tremendous and so many were inspired by the projects they saw and the people from all over the state that they met. Students shared ideas from across the lunch table and the aisles between posters. Through the questions asked by judges and the relationships built, it was a learning experience for all.

I’d like to congratulate every student on their successes. Each and every student at the fair proved all of their efforts were aimed at innovating in the science world and enhancing life on our planet. No matter the results, everyone did an incredible job.


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Student Perspective: Lily

  The science research course at Ridgefield high school granted me a once in a lifetime outer space stars galaxies nasa hubble 1920x1080 wallpaper_wallpaperswa.com_39opportunity to work in a university laboratory along side professors and graduate students.  The experience could not be more rewarding, and made all of the late night phone calls, denied mentor requests, and journal article reading all worth it. This past summer I conducted original research at the University of Connecticut, at the marine sciences campus at Avery Point, for two weeks. I was testing the varying grazing rates of copepods (a marine microorganism) and how differing levels of toxicity in their diet affect these rates.


These results could be used to understand how energy and nutrition fuel ecosystems as a whole, by way of the food chain. I worked under the supervision of my mentor, Professor Hans Dam who was incredibly supportive and at the same time made sure I knew I was in control of my experiment. While I have yet to interpret the results of my experiments, I will carry the knowledge and experience gained during my time during the lab with me for the rest of my research career.  Science research has taught me more about myself than any class in high school. I have learned to communicate with my peers as well as professionals, most importantly how to continue persevering when I hit bumps in the road. While I had my fair share of set backs and challenges I learned to trust the process of the course and cannot wait to continue to analyze my findings and share it with the scientific community in the classroom and beyond.

Lily and her mentor, Professor Hans Dam

Lily and her mentor, Professor Hans Dam

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Student Perspective: Jennifer Schwartz

My name is Jennifer Schwartz and I am a Junior in The Ridgefield High School Science Research Program. I joined this program last year and have begun studying new cancer drugs to target mitochondrial proteins that may be the cause of certain types of cancer. I have never been able to say that a class has changed me, but The Ridgefield High School Science Research Program is no more a class than Google is a website. It has taken off from an academic course to a family of students who journey together from early curiosity to self discovery in the science research world while learning how to professionally and appropriately express themselves and share their message with others. This community of learners grows in their abilities not only in science, but in their real-world skills that help a student in every class. Along with these skills, the students also are awarded with incredible opportunities including conducting authentic research and entering elite science competitions. Students’ “topics” are not just projects, these are the ideas that will fuel the future of research and innovation.


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Student Perspective: Sarah

As a junior in high school I have yet to experience college life in dorm rooms and cold lecture halls. I have not felt the pressing need to memorize every bone in the body for anatomy tests, or had the need to cross a campus to attend class. However, I have been in university research labs to perform ground-breaking research as well as to practice lab techniques. Being so young and working in a lab is a growing trend in the research community: students are becoming more and more involved with innovating medicine, health care, astronomy, and even engineering. The name is Sarah, and I am a sixteen year old with a proposed experiment to observe the differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells into cardiomyocytes as to sustain the regeneration of the heart tissue.
Late night emails, phone calls during class, and the occasional video chat after school are memories of my first year in the Science Research course that allowed me to get to the point of my research career that I am at. It is an intensive three year program to develop a foundation in a specified scientific field then create an experiment as a potential solution or calculation to fill existing gaps. Throughout the frustration and ebullition, my Science Research instructors have supported all of my endeavors. Even though the late emails extend their hours or continue during school breaks, cordial advice is always proffered. The biggest lesson that they have taught me is that hard work will always prevail, be it in tangible success or knowledge from experiences, it is always worthwhile.
The below picture is of me at the Southern Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair (SCISEF) this past February 2014. My category was proposed health and medicine, one of the largest in the entire competition. Although I did not place, I was able to identify flaws in my experiment as pointed out by the judges, which in turn helped me to refine the proposal.