Big-Picture Science

June 18, 2013

By Neil Pierson

Skyline club links like-minded students

Many education-based groups, including teachers, administrators and coaches, have their own statewide organizations designed to form relationships and share ideas.

By Neil Pierson Anthony Xie (left) and Michael Guo, Cascade Ridge Elementary School students, test out ‘The Hangman,’ an electromagnetic experiment at the Skyline High School science club’s anti-gravity exposition on June 7.

By Neil Pierson
Anthony Xie (left) and Michael Guo, Cascade Ridge Elementary School students, test out ‘The Hangman,’ an electromagnetic experiment at the Skyline High School science club’s anti-gravity exposition on June 7.

Until a few months ago, there was no organization in Washington for students with an aptitude for science. That’s where Skyline High School students Gokul Kumarressen, Akkshay Khoslaa and Oscar Mowar come in.

In March, the students launched the Washington Student Science Association, which has a mission to unite science clubs in grades kindergarten through 12 throughout the state. They’ve already received interest from many groups, and they’ve filed for federal status as a nonprofit organization.

“What’s unique about WSSA is it’s really organized,” Mowar said. “We have a business plan, we have a hierarchy. It’s all set up and it’s ready to go.”

They plan to offer plenty of membership incentives and a chance to connect year round. Right now, most student scientists never interact unless it’s at a big competition.

“They’ll be included in a community so they can connect, and we’ll obviously have events where everyone will just come together and enjoy science,” Mowar said.

Along with founding the association, Kumarressen, Khoslaa and Mowar also joined to form Skyline’s first science club. The school has more specific clubs related to robotics, physics, math and biology, but the students felt there was a need for more.

“The thing that makes science club so special is that, unlike all these other clubs, we can compete in a lot of national and international competitions that really allow the students to apply their knowledge about science and technology into the real world,” Kumarressen said.

The Skyline science club began meeting in March and quickly caught hold. The club meets weekly and has about 30 full-time members. Attendance at some meetings has swelled to 50, Khoslaa said.

That prompted the club’s first event, a discussion about string theory and how it relates to the world. On June 7, the club hosted an anti-gravity exposition and invited the public to participate.

The club is trying to grow its ranks and set up for next year, when members plan to compete at the Google Science Fair, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, the Siemens Competition and Science Olympiad.

“We’re trying to prepare ourselves for these competitions, and it’s really strenuous work, so that’s why we’re trying to start as early as possible,” Kumarressen said.

The anti-gravity expo featured several video demonstrations and physical models. Among the displays were The Hangman, an electromagnet that levitated a small magnet; an information booth about flying cars and their possible emergence within the next decade; and “The Drop,” a video showing a magnet falling through a copper tube at a gravity-defying rate.

Zach Freedel, a science club member, showed people how magnets can help levitate trains. Maglev, a method of propulsion without wheels, has created an environmentally friendly and time-efficient means of travel in parts of Asia.

“Their trains are a lot faster and their systems are a lot more effective,” Freedel said. “They’re trying to implement it here.”

The association co-founders have big plans for their futures.

“I’m going to be pursuing my particle physics interests over the summer in internships,” Khoslaa said, “at possibly the University of California, a campus there.”

“I’m primarily interested in robotics and mechanical engineering,” Kumarressen said. “I just like the fact that engineering really sparks creativity and basically opens up a whole bunch of possibilities that seem impossible, but they’re untapped essentially.”


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