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An Episcopal, co-educational 100% boarding school in Middletown, Delaware for grades 9 – 12

Fourth Annual McLean Science Lecture Competition Explores "New and Emerging Science"
Liz Torrey

On November 12, the school community enjoyed the fourth annual Peter K. McLean Science Lecture Competition. In this competition, begun in 2018 by current Science Department Chair Ashley Hyde, students are invited to submit presentations on a STEM topic of their choosing in a variety of fields: physics, astronomy, chemistry, engineering, computer science, environmental science, biology, and medicine. Four student finalists are then selected to give their presentations to the school community in Engelhard Hall. This year’s finalists and their talks were:

  • Adele Auchincloss ’23, Nerve Detecting Prosthetics: Replicating Human Touch
  • Derek Ike ’23, The Future of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence at Boston Dynamics
  • Heidi Seo ’23, How Artificial Intelligence Revolutionizes Biology: AlphaFold 2
  • Sonal Bhatia ’22, Asteroid Orbit Determination (And Why On Earth We Should Start Caring About It)

You can watch all of these presentations here.

The finalists' talks were then judged by a panel of science faculty, with Pearl Mallick ’22, last year's competition winner, as a student vote. Sonal Bhatia ’22 was selected as the 2021 winner, and her achievement was announced at the school’s Thanksgiving dinner on November 19. 

"This year's competition offered a platform to young scientists in the Classes of 2022 and 2023 to put their passion for science on display for the whole community,” said Dr. Hyde. “Ten students entered the competition this year, each of whom offered exciting talks on cutting-edge science: selecting just four for the final was incredibly hard. Students were tasked with designing talks on topics they had not seen in a class, and the resulting variety and depth of what they produced is a testament to how inquisitive and driven our students are. In Engelhard on Friday, our finalists came meticulously prepared, having toiled away to refine and perfect their talks since the audition phase, and despite their nerves, they all blew us away! The audience, consisting of students from the 9th to the 12th grades as well as faculty (along with family and friends watching from home!) were captivated by each and every talk, offering curious and insightful questions to each speaker in the Q&A portions. Adele, Derek, Heidi, and Sonal should all feel triumphant for having inspired and enriched our collective minds. I and the entire Science Department thank them all for their hard work. As it is every year, my favorite part of the competition was learning about new and emerging science from our speakers: in Engelhard that night, we were not divided into students and teachers. We were all simply lovers of learning."