WiSTEM participates in Bay Area Research Exposition (BARE)

May 3, 2017 — by Sherrie Shen

Amidst the tall glass buildings of Google Headquarters in Mountain View, approximately 40 girls from Lynbrook, Monta Vista and Saratoga High School attended the Bay Area Research Exposition (BARE) on April 2.

An annual event for the past four years, BARE features a joint high school conference, where STEM professionals are invited to lead workshops, participate in panel discussions and give keynote presentations.

“The purpose of BARE is to be a place where girls who are interested in the STEM network meet others who are similarly interested, learn about possible career paths and even compete by using STEM to solve a real-world problem,” said junior Susan Zhao, one of Lynbrook’s coordinators.

The annual conference started at 9:30 a.m. when participants met for an opening ceremony. Then, two keynote speakers presented on their research, career path and perspectives on their lives as scientists and women in STEM.

In the meantime, contestants set up their project presentations, tri-fold posters addressing a problem in the school environment and proposing a STEM solution to solve for this problem.

Following the setup, non-contestants participated in a gallery walk to take a closer look at the boards and ask the competitors questions.

After breaking for lunch and a panel discussion with several women in the research industry, BARE concluded with an awards ceremony at 1:30 p.m., recognizing certain contestants for their brilliantly executed project proposals and speakers for taking their time to go to BARE.

“From BARE, we hope to show young women the multitude of opportunities available to them in the STEM fields,” said junior Sohini Kar, one of Saratoga’s WiSTEM officers. “Women still make up a startling minority in such fields, and we hope to encourage girls to pursue these fields by showing them and giving them the opportunity to network and speak to female industry professionals.”

Due to a lack of girls from Saratoga signing up, WiSTEM officers had decided to make BARE attendance a mandatory part of next year’s officer application. In the end, 12 girls from Saratoga ended up attending, with freshman Ananya Vadlakonda competing.

Vadlakonda identified a lack of focus in students with ADHD as her prompt, then proposed finding a possible underlying cause for the students being unfocused and a potential treatment. She cited unstable dopamine levels as a potential cause and found that ascorbic acid, also known as Vitamin C, was able to stabilize dopamine levels and would thereby help students focus.

“Presenting at BARE gave me an opportunity to share my research with not only other students, but some very successful female scientists, which was very rewarding,” Vadlakonda said.

She also had the opportunity to listen to several accomplished female scientists and their specific research. For instance, one speaker invented a better version of the technology used in gel electrophoresis, which Vadlakonda found extremely interesting as it was a technique she used in past science projects.

“From chemistry, to science ethics, to cancer research, to working at Apple, BARE demonstrates to participants the range of STEM options they can pursue and succeed in,” Kar said. “From this event, we hope participants are more open to these fields and eager to find more opportunities.”

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