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17699Black Students Shine At Greene Scholar Programs Science Fair In California

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  • S. E. Anderson
    Jan 27, 2014
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      Black Students Shine At Greene Scholar Programs Science Fair In California
      By D.L. Chandler - newsone.com

      The Dr. Frank S. Greene Scholars Program dedicates its focus on preparing and challenging students in the fields of science,

      technology, engineering and math, also know as the STEM fields. Now in its 12th year, the Greene Scholar Programs (GSP)

      Science Fair, held this past weekend in San Jose, Calif., has been one of the most-dynamic events focusing on the excellence

      of African-American students in the Bay Area.

      Jan 27, 2014 -- The San Jose Mercury News reported on the event, and spoke with several of the young participants, ranging from grades from third to 12th. One sixth-grader’s science presentation was rather impressive given his young age, and the 11-year-old raised a fine question with his experiment regarding the Tesla Motors electric car.

      “As a car guy, I wondered if this small change would alter the aerodynamics of the car,” said Ayinde Olukotun, who attends Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School in Palo Alto.


      Olukotun’s experiment studied the effect of the electric car manufacturers’ decision to raise the body of the Model S version of the vehicle after some reported battery fires. Olukotun compared the energy efficiency of model cars of different shapes and sizes, although he notes Tesla did the right thing in addressing the issue while possibly raising another. He says he “might e-mail” Tesla concerning his finds.


      Program Director Gloria Whitaker-Daniels, who began at Dr. Frank S. Greene Scholars Program as a parent volunteer in 2001, has been heading the GSP for the last five years. With the South Bay area’s lower number of African-American residents, Ms. Whitaker-Daniels boasts that 100 percent of its students enter college and that 90 percent of them graduate.


      More than 40 percent of GSP participants major in STEM fields, which reportedly is five times the national average for Black students.


      Learn more about the excellent work of the Dr. Frank S. Greene Scholars Program here: http://www.greenescholars.org/index.html


      Silicon Valley: Budding African-American scientists learn from both success and failure

      By Sharon Noguchi
      Posted: 01/27/2014

      SAN JOSE -- Attention, Tesla Motors: Your next budding engineering genius lives right in your backyard and has a question and a hunch about aerodynamics for you.

      Ayinde Olukotun, 11, was intrigued by the electric car company's decision last year to raise its new Model S higher off the ground after a series of well-publicized battery fires.

      "As a car guy, I wondered if this small change would alter the aerodynamics of the car," said Ayinde, a sixth-grader at Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School in Palo Alto.

      He was among about 100 young scientists explaining their displays Saturday at the 12th annual Greene Scholars Program Science Fair.

      The fair is part of the Dr. Frank S. Greene Scholars Program, aimed at nurturing African-American students' interest in science, technology, engineering and math -- often called the STEM fields. The program offers workshops, enrichment, a summer institute, a career fair and other activities to the 110 students in third through 12th grade, Program Director Gloria Whitaker-Daniels said.

      The science fair, she said, provides a safe place for students to showcase their achievements and practice presentation skills and speaking to strangers.

      Ayinde compared the energy efficiency of balsa model cars with different nose shapes, body sizes, centers of gravity and other variables. He thinks that while Palo Alto-based Tesla may have solved the problem of battery fires, it might be creating another problem with the Model S's lift, causing bouncing.

      What to do?

      "I might email Tesla about that," he said.

      The room at Cypress Semiconductor was abuzz Saturday, as eager young scientists like Ayinde recounted their trials, successes and failures to about 200 family members, friends, teachers and others.

      Launched 12 years ago in Santa Clara County, Greene Scholars has spread to San Mateo, Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

      Whitaker-Daniels said 100 percent of its graduates go on to college and that 90 percent of them graduate. Forty percent major in STEM-related fields -- five times the national average for African-American college students.

      The South Bay has a relatively small population of African-Americans, she said, so having children in the same room where they can share their interests with like-minded students is invaluable.

      Students tested the effects of microwave radiation on seeds, what cooling method makes boiled eggs easier to peel and the most effective drink to replenish electrolytes (answer: coconut water, not sports drinks). Sophie Tekle, an eighth-grader at KIPP Summit Academy in San Lorenzo, showed that fingerprints are partly inherited.

      Many of the experiments focused on the practical.

      Redeat Adane, 14, found that -- gasp -- door handles on bathrooms in six private homes had many times more bacteria than do handles on six public restrooms.

      "I really like microbiology," said the ninth-grader at Santa Clara High, who also admitted, "I am a germaphobe."

      Also fascinated by bacteria, Shelby Johnson, 17, couldn't discern which types grow fastest when exposed to three genres of music. Next time, the junior at Sobrato High in Morgan Hill said, she'll reduce the variables.

      In many cases, students discovered the essential lesson that science is not about being proven right -- it's what you learn along the way.

      Carter Shaw, 8, set out to create a football-tossing device. But footballs were too unwieldy, so he switched to tennis balls. But then the tennis-ball-flinging cannon had problems with its bungee-cord-powered tube and a ball-holder cup that got stuck. So he tested balls flung at different angles from a baseball pitching machine.

      Actually, the third-grader at El Carmelo Elementary in Palo Alto said the most fun was watching the balls fly over the back fence and land in a neighbor's yard.

      As fourth-grader Charis Toney, 10, found, scientists can even enjoy misguided hypotheses.

      When the fourth-grader at Don Callejon School in Santa Clara tested which fruits would make the best battery, she hypothesized that the acidic lemon would come out ahead. But it turned out the voltmeter, connected to copper wire and a galvanized nail in each fruit, indicated that pears are the top conductor.

      The best part of the experiment? Besides testing the fruit, it was eating the pear, which might be a good conductor because it was lusciously juicy, she said, pointing to her display of an apple, banana and lemon.

      "That's why," she said of the pear, "it's not here."

      Contact Sharon Noguchi at 408-271-3775. Follow her at Twitter.com/NoguchiOnK12.

      s. e. anderson
      author of The Black Holocaust for Beginners
      If WORK was good for you, the rich would leave none for the poor. (Haiti)