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Ramsay High School – Birmingham, AL

Ramsay High School’s Way Cool Student Scientist Report
Ramsay High School’s Backyard Geology Report

Sandra (teacher): This is my 25th year to teach science, and 24 of these years have been with the Birmingham City Schools. I have spent the last 10 wonderful years at Ramsay High School, which is located in the center of the city within walking distance of the University of Alabama in Birmingham. Ramsay High is ethnically diverse and all the students take an entrance test for admittance.

I presently teach Biology, Genetics, and Microbiology. In other years, I have taught Marine Biology. It feels great to say that I still love what I do and it is a credit to the enthusiastic students that I teach and the cooperation that the University of Alabama in Birmingham has offered. Not only has UAB provided me with the wonderful laboratory supplies for my Genetics and Microbiology courses, but they have also provided the professional expertise to answer many questions. We work together to develop and implement the curriculum - most of which is laboratory based. I also sponsor the Science Club at my school and UAB is also there to provide more meaningful activities. This is also why I am so excited to be able to work with UAB's Professor Tom Wdowiak on this project.

Christopher (student): Ever since I was a child I have had an interest in space and its exploration. I remember many occasions where I gazed at stars, planets, comets, meteors, and space stations as they dangled above my head. I have also had several good (and not so good) experiences with model rocketry. I still harbor that interest today. I feel that space exploration is the key to the progress of the human species, and NASA is the organization that will lead us into the future. I am at a loss of words to describe the honor I feel in being part of such an organization.

I was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1987. I have lived in Alabama my entire life. I attended Christian Middle School from second to the eighth grade where I, among other things, was inducted into the National Jr. Honor Society. I was later accepted into Ramsay Alternative High School and I am currently a sophomore maintaining a 4.25 GPA. I am actively involved in JROTC, Band, and the Science Club.

Ben (student): Some people don't like science, in fact some people hate it. That's not the case for me; I love science. Since I was young, I've always held a passion for science and I was especially interested in seeing the different ways that it could be applied. This is one of the things that first drew me to computer science and engineering. Over the past five years or so, I've held a deep interest for creating programs and seeing them in action. At the same time, however, I also enjoyed studying the world around me and what laws governed it. I'm a very hands-on person, although I work well in theory, and I’m excited any time that I can produce a reaction or create some kind of effect..

Astronomy has recently become an interest for me, although I can remember quite a few years ago being fascinated by the comet Hale-Bopp when it passed close enough to Earth to be seen with the plain eye. At the time, I wondered about astronomy; however, as with many paths not followed, these ambitions were buried under more immediate studies. It was not until this past summer that I was given the opportunity to re-cultivate these interests through an internship in the astrophysics department at the University of Alabama Birmingham. It was a learning experience for me of immense proportions. Courses such as astronomy and physics had been unavailable for me in my high school for numerous reasons and this was my first exposure to both.

I learned from my internship the basics of the field as well as some of the specialized areas that the lab focuses on. It was one of those specialized fields that I chose to do my science project on this year. The title of the project was "Formation of an Interstellar Dust Analog" and it concentrated on the IR spectrum of a Poly Aromatic Hydrocarbon plasma product. I studied this topic in depth and my project competed in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

I heard about the Athena program while doing my actual research in the lab at UAB for my project. One of my mentors described the project to me and it struck me as a way to further my interest in astronomy and astrophysics. I hope to be part of the Athena team and contribute any ideas or knowledge that I have.