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Students Explore Gravitational Waves, Nanomaterials, Stress, and More During Science Lecture Night
Liz Torrey

St. Andrew's held a Science Lecture Night on, November 30, organized by Science Department faculty Ashley Hyde and Chair Brendan Daly. V Form and VI Form students were invited to submit 10-15 minute presentations on a science topic of interest in the disciplines of Physics & Astronomy, Chemistry & Engineering, Biology, and Environmental Science. Students first presented to science faculty, who then selected four finalists to share their work with the entire school on a Friday evening in Forbes Theatre. "The key to this challenge is finding an exciting area of science, and delivering a talk that is both intellectually rigorous yet also fun and engaging for everyone from freshmen to faculty," explained Dr. Hyde in her introduction of the event.

This year's finalists were (listed in the order they presented):

  • Bence Orkeny '20, who presented on Same-Sex Sexual Behavior in Animals;
  • Emily Paton '20, who presented on Measuring Gravitational Waves;
  • Lila Feldmann '20, who presented on the Science Behind Stress; and
  • Charlotte Oxnam '19, who presented on Nanomaterials: The Big Frontier of Tiny Science.

You can watch each presentation in full on our Livestream channel.

"When St. Andrew's embarked on its new schedule, we hoped that it would give rise to new ideas and opportunities," said Mr. Daly in his opening remarks at the event. "I think tonight's presentations are a perfect example of this ideal." With the removal of Saturday morning classes from the weekly academic schedule, Friday night study hall is now abbreviated, leaving more time for all-school programming. Dr. Hyde thus saw an opportunity to secure a Friday evening for the exploration of science, and to replicate one of her favorite traditions—student science lecture night—from her previous place of employment, the Harrow School in London, England.

"Although of course what we do every day is to try and teach you, we have so much to learn from you as well," Dr. Hyde said to students that evening. "Within the student body, we have all these mini-experts in all these different areas of science that might not ever come out apart from an event like this."

The Science Lecture Night is to be an annual event, with one student each year receiving an award for "Best Presentation," with the inaugural award going to Emily Paton '20. At School Meeting last week, Emily was presented with a book prize for her efforts, and the Science Department also announced that the event and the award will be named for longtime biology teacher Peter McLean.

"Through my participation in this event, I learned that as a thinker, my potential is always being pushed," Emily said, "just like our knowledge of gravitational waves and the expansion of the universe! This competition really pushed me to embrace my love for science. When I finished speaking on stage that night, I smiled such a huge smile and I felt on top of the world. In that moment, I was so genuinely joyful, not just for myself, but for the fact that I was able to share the joy, love, and passion for a field of science that I care really deeply about. I was able to nerd out with the people and community that I love the most, and I felt, and still feel, so supported in my exploration of and passion for astronomy."

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