Greens Farms Academy is a PreK-12, coed school in Westport, CT

World Perspectives Symposium

Our Guest Speakers

About Nicole Nason

We invite you to the ninth annual World Perspectives Symposium on April 9-10. We’ll kick-off the symposium on April 9 with a speech by Nicole Nason, at 10:50 AM in the Performing Arts Center.

Nason was sworn in as Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Administration in December 2017. She previously served as the Acting Assistant Secretary for Overseas Building Operations and as Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State.

Read More about About Nicole Nason
About Graham Bacher '13

Graduating from GFA in 2013, Graham Bacher went on to receive a joint MA/BA in International Relations from the University of Chicago in 2017. He interned as a research assistant on Middle East issues at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. as well as a graduate research assistant for Professor Austin Carson at the University of Chicago, studying intelligence cooperation in UN peacekeeping.

Read More about About Graham Bacher '13
WPP Symposium

“Today's presentations celebrate our students' academic achievements … but they also highlight the character of these students and their sincere desire to confront the challenges we face and use the opportunities they have been given to make our world a better place.”

Tuesday, April 9

10:10–10:50 AM, Performing Arts Center

Guest Speaker Address by Nicole Nason
Introduced by Ward Abel, Director of Global Education

Wednesday, April 10

8:10-8:45AM, Performing Arts Center

Keynote Address by Graham Bacher '13
Introduced by Ward Abel, Director of Global Education

8:50-9:40AM – Panel Sessions I

Future of Democracy
Eva Ebbesen, Bryn Morrison, Michael Pratt, and Willem Schuddeboom
Moderator: Nelson Graves, Founder of News-Decoder
Performing Arts Center
Democratic governments all over the world are facing complex challenges ranging from rising populism and special interests influencing politics at home to trade disputes and harmful influences from adversarial actors abroad. To what extent has a globalized world threatened the democratic principles that have dominated international politics since the end of World War II?  Are democracies facing new kinds of problems today or has globalization revealed a more serious failure in a flawed system? This panel explores four different case studies that highlight potential vulnerabilities in democratic societies and explores the question of whether or not democracies will be strengthened or weakened by the challenges they face in the 21st century.

Qualitative Research: Socioeconomics and the Student Experience at GFA
David Basich, Giavanna Bravo, Annabel Lawton, Ely Michel, Max Morfoot, and Callie Morgan
Moderator: Chris Kolovos, Associate Head of School
Choral Room
These six Upper School students have spent the year studying the connection between socioeconomic status and the student experience at GFA. The team’s findings are based on a review of the academic literature on this topic, a survey of the Upper School student body, and a number of student focus groups and interviews conducted throughout the winter and early spring. The goal is not only to help us all better understand our community, but also to lead to real changes; in that spirit the presenters will describe their research findings and offer ideas to help the community move forward. This research is part of our partnership with UPenn’s School Participatory Action Research Collaborative (SPARC) program, an institute that provides support for student research teams engaged in Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR).

(Comm)unity in Post-Truth Societies
Ethan Parker, Isabella Whelan, and Jack Wolfsohn
Moderator: Michelle Levi, Director of Marketing and Communications
Center for Global Studies (Room G113)
In today’s contentious media and political landscape, it can often seem that bringing people together is an impossible task. Technology and information sharing has changed the nature of political debate in the 21st century, so that deception and misinformation are increasingly prevalent in our discourse. At the same time, political arguments often center on emotional appeals that seek to override factual realities and rebuttals. Fundamentally, we are presented with the problem of how to have a truthful, honest dialogue about a given issue when the political and psychological stakes are high. This panel explore a variety of questions centered on how communities come together when faced with fundamental disagreements about their past, present, and future, such as: Does outrage culture prohibit the free exchange of ideas at institutions of higher learning? How does the US government garner domestic support for its interests abroad? How do post-conflict societies remember their trauma and move forward? Panelists will explore how humans connect with one another in a community setting.

Research in STEAM
Moderator: Janet Smith, Science Faculty
MakerSpace (Room G012)

  1. An Object-tethered and App-Integrated Temperature and Humidity Sensor to Warn Users of Dangerous Fluctuations
    Ethan Furman
    Every year, dogs are left in hot cars, ice cream melts in freezers, pipes freeze, basements flood, and plants die. We struggle to monitor the temperature and humidity of important things in our lives; Kevin solves this problem by alerting users of drastic temperature and humidity changes so they can act on the problem before it’s too late. Kevin is a small device that can be placed anywhere and connects to a WiFi signal to send information about temperature and humidity to a user’s phone. Through the Kevin mobile app, users connect one or multiple devices, select a preferred temperature and humidity or use Kevin’s recommended threshold for the object that Kevin is tethered to. For each of their belongings, Kevins sense if they are too hot, cold, dry, or humid, and the user will receive a text message and an alarm will go off on their phone when the case arises. Kevin’s electronics are packaged in a sleek and spherical form so they can fit anywhere, on anything you care about, from the collar of your dog, to the inside of your instrument case.
  2. Smart Fridge Camera and Recipe Recommender for Reducing Consumer Food Waste
    Sean Hogan
    Billions of pounds of food are wasted every year at both the retail and consumer level. To address a portion of this problem. This project focuses on reducing the everyday waste of foods in consumer refrigerators. In order to accomplish this goal, a device for refrigerators makes it as easy as possible for the user to reduce their food waste. The product is an Internet of Things connected device with a camera and microcontroller that notifies the user when their foods are going bad through a phone application. The application recommends recipes which use the foods that will expire soon. In order to identify and index the foods in the fridge, this device uses a PixyCam, which has a built-in functionality that allows it to recognize different color signatures. The Pixy was trained with foods that come in distinct packages to recognize them based on size and shape. In order to process the information from the Pixy, it was connected to a Photon, a microcontroller with access to the internet. The Photon is connected to the Particle IDE platform, where it sends data about the food and its freshness to an app. Lastly, in order to fit the system into a fridge, a 3D printed case that maximizes the camera’s field of vision was created.

9:40-10:35AM – Panel Sessions II

Human Ecology & Sustainability: Getting Greener — Putting GFA's Sustainability Efforts On The Map
Kyra Lerner, Grace McGonagle, and Rikeh Saingbe
Moderator: James Serach, Science Department Chair
Performing Arts Center
In this panel discussion, students in Human Ecology and Sustainability Seminar will explore and share their research and proposals for their projects. Topics will include: getting students and faculty involved in gardening and food production on campus, GFA's sustainability initiatives in the form of an interactive map, and the slavery footprint of GFA and ways to reduce the significant impact of our consumer lifestyles.

Problem Solving in a Cultural Context
Alexandra Agnew, Marshall Bessey & Lindsey Offermann
Moderator: Valeria Ibarcena, Global Studies Faculty
Center for Global Studies (Room G113)
In a field often fraught with imperial undertones, researchers in anthropology find themselves facing underlying questions about the nature of cultural research, such as the (surprisingly complex) problem of defining culture, the relationship between the researcher and the researched, and justifying the academic contribution of a highly specific project. Throughout their year of research, students on this panel found themselves engaging with such higher-order academic questions, complicated by studying a culture that might fundamentally differ from their own. This panel juxtaposes three case studies — school curricula in South Carolina middle schools, definition and treatment of depression in Japan, and child malaria persistence in Tanzania — to explore the global implications of national problems.

Crime: Before Commission and After Incarceration
Sophie Staeger and Lila Wells
Moderator: Alfred Pavlis, Global Studies Faculty
Choral Room
Criminal justice continues to be a controversial issue in the United States today. The US accounts for about 4% of the global population, but holds approximately 22% of the world’s prisoners.  Historically, the question of how to deal with those who break the law overlaps with complex social issues including class, race, gender, and mental health. This panel compares and contrasts the use of psychological profiling, which can be used to prevent acts of violence in a school setting, with civil punishments, penalties which survive the term of the prison sentence for a non-violent offenses. In looking at these two aspects of criminal justice, panelists will delve into the complexities of the United States legal system to reveal some of its inherent contradictions.

Research in STEAM
Moderator: Nina Yuen, Visual Arts Faculty
Oak Room

  1. Integrating Haptic Feedback Into a Robotic Prosthetic
    William McCall
    How do you make a robotic hand behave like a human hand? Using 3D printing, computer science, and physics, this project created a robotic prosthetic hand that mimics the motion of a user wearing a glove. With the help of a variable pulse-width modulated electric current taking input from a variable resistor, various configurations of a human hand in were encoded in a robot. How do you make a robotic hand gain a sense of touch? To answer this question, a force sensitive resistor was added to the prosthetic, which detects pressure and transmits the data to the glove, where the user feels an updated sense of pressure in real time. This technology has the potential to allow surgeons who are hundreds of miles away to diagnose and surgically treat cancerous lumps in the hypodermis. This presentation will aim to provide a walkthrough and demonstration of this technology, which has been in development for over 6 months.
  2. Tangible Media for the Visually Impaired Using a Sensory Substitution Device
    Katherine Marcus
    The visually impaired have found many ways to work around not being able to see, ranging from walking with guide dogs and canes, reading with braille to enhanced abilities that heighten their other senses such as sound for object location. Even so, translation of images from a visual medium to a physical medium remains complex and difficult.  This project created a tangible media board that converts images into a 3x3 grid representation, so that users can "feel the image." To use this device, the user simply inserts the image into the designated panel, where light sensors scan the image and send results to a microcontroller called an Arduino. Using an original code, the corresponding linear actuators raise up or remain level to replicate the image in 3D. To create this device, a 3D printer created linear servos and programmed them to move in response to light and dark. This device is inspired by MIT's inFORM, a dynamic shape display, but this prototype is smaller and therefore more accessible for daily usage with small scale images.

Research in STEAM
Moderator: Janet Smith, Science Faculty
MakerSpace (Room G012)

  1. Aquatic Educational Robot for Middle School Students
    Leah Attai
    This project created a Syllaboat as a tool to increase computer science literacy for middle school-aged students. Syllaboat is made of 3D printed parts, plastic tubing, a SparkFun RedBot Mainboard, and 140 rpm Hobby Gearmotors. Through learning computer science topics like loops, functions, variables, and conditionals, students are able to develop problem solving skills and gain confidence in a growing field. Products that encourage computer science learning for this demographic exist, for example, LEGO Mindstorm robots, but cost around $350, which limits the product’s accessibility to students at schools that can’t afford the hefty price. The Syllaboat serves to enforce the idea that computer science is for everyone. The Syllaboat is made of a 3D printed chassis and attachments that are controlled by two small motors and a Sparkfun Redbot Redboard. These materials allow for the robot’s build cost to be less than fifty dollars, one-seventh of the cost of a LEGO Mindstorm. The robot is water resistant and can use a flipper motor attachment to paddle through water. The flippers can be swapped for wheels to drive on surfaces. Through testing the Syllaboat with middle school students, this project seeks to find how effective the robot is as a learning device.
  2. An Interactive App for Catalyzing Personalized Idea Generation
    Luke Hammer
    Often, the hardest part of any project can be coming up with an initial idea. This project seeks to help solve this problem with an app that guides the user through a sequence of activities and games that will help them generate viable ideas. The app is currently navigable and has over half of the games implemented. The first game prompts the user with a category, asking them to write down as many words in that category before the time runs out. The second game combines the user’s previous inputs and asks the user to create further ideas from those inputs. The third game focuses on improving user-generated objects, optionally with the prompt of a variable sensor such as “light sensor” or “pressure sensor.” The fourth game asks the user to create an idea from an image. The fifth is a variation on the game which combines inputs from the first game, but with pre-set categories. The sixth asks the user to self-evaluate their previously created ideas and think of one or more improvements to those ideas. By the end of this sequence of games, the user would hopefully have found an idea that they view as viable in the context of their project. Future forms would include an organization tool for the user’s ideas should there be a large quantity of them, or a capability for connection between a user’s app and another user’s app to allow for evaluation of other people’s ideas.

10:40-11:30AM – Panel Sessions III

The Power of Media in the 21st Century
Charlotte Cohen, David Hoffman, Zach Liston, and Lilah McCormick
Moderator: Bob Whelan, Head of School
Performing Arts Center

The media landscape has shifted dramatically in the 21st century. 24-hour cable news networks and social media sites have made information more accessible than ever before. Though media bias continues to be a point of contention, the changes in how media is produced and consumed lead to new questions about influence and power. How do mainstream news sources influence public perception on complex topics in a globalized world? In what ways has the new media landscape empowered individuals to speak out about controversial issues? Using techniques such as rhetorical analysis and visual quantitative content analysis, this panel will dive deep into how mainstream news influences public perception and reveal some of the new tools that are available to media industry today. From subtle biases in the text and photographs of mainstream news outlets to all-out information warfare through social media, this panel will dive deep into how the nature of media has changed in the 21st century.

Human Ecology & Sustainability: Building Solutions — Confronting Nature-Deficit Disorder
Teddy Brown, Andrew McIlvaine, and Colette Offermann
Moderator: James Serach, Science Department Chair
Choral Room

In this panel discussion students in Human Ecology and Sustainability Seminar will discuss the educational value and importance to well-being that comes from being outside and in green spaces. The students will propose ideas that capitalize on GFA's beautiful architecture and physical surroundings. Making the patio more green and welcoming, beautifying and planting the entrance to the school, and creating an outdoor classroom space in campus are examples of how GFA can improve students’ overall well-being.

Middle School Capstone Research: Sustainability and the Environment
Moderator: Claire Bouyssie, MS Global Studies Liaison
Oak Room

  1. The Corruption of the Fossil Fuel Industry and its Impact on the World's Knowledge of Climate Change
    Charles Henry
    This paper explored interest groups and actors in the fossil fuel industry. This topic is significant because the ideologies and special interests of actors in the fossil fuel industry can have a large negative impact on what the world learns about climate change.
  2. Sustainable Architecture
    Brendan Howard
    This paper explored Sustainable Architecture and its significant benefits of the environment and people’s health. The main argument of the paper is that Sustainable Architecture, if widely accepted, can help to diminish much of the climate change that has hurt our planet. This topic is significant because the environment is under extreme turmoil, and if change does not come fast, then the effects could be permanent, and could affect the way that generations in the future live.
  3. Plastic Pollution in Our World: Its Effects on the Ocean, Animals and People
    Camille Ewing
    This paper explored the effects of plastic pollution on the ocean, animals, and humans and how it is negatively impacting our environment. The main argument of the paper is that there needs to be a change and people need to work hard in their everyday lives to eliminate single use plastic waste. This topic is significant because plastic pollution is dramatically impacting our oceans and wildlife, and could lead to disastrous repercussions unless plastic waste is reduced.
  4. Plastic Pollution
    Paige Bierman
    This paper explored the damage that plastic pollution has on the environment, animals, and humans, and the future of plastic pollution and its effect on the world. The main argument of the paper is that although it will be immensely difficult and will take time, the damage that has been caused by plastic pollution can be lessened or reversed in the future by making some drastic changes to how people around the world use and dispose of plastic. This topic is significant because plastic pollution is an issue that is directly affecting everyone and all parts of the world.
  5. Sharks and the Media
    Fiona Reynolds
    This paper explored how the media has affected sharks and how people view them. The paper argues that the media is falsifying information and creating a worldwide irrational fear of sharks. This topic is significant because bad media representation is putting sharks in harm and endangering them. Without sharks in the ocean, the food chain would become unbalanced and more ocean animals would go extinct.

Research in STEAM
Moderator: Joachim Kuhn, Science Faculty
MakerSpace (G012)

  1. Variable Aperture Aerospike Nozzles as a Way to Increase the Efficiency of Rockets
    Piero Panariello
    Rocket nozzles are inherently inefficient. The expanding gasses of a rocket nozzle are subject to atmospheric pressures, which will cause the rocket to become efficient at certain altitudes and inefficient at others. Because rockets are subject to a wide range of atmospheric pressures, multiple rocket stages (the process of packing smaller rockets into the larger rocket) must be used in order to achieve peak efficiency since there has been no method for variating the exiting pressure of a bell nozzle. This is due to the phenomenon known as over and under expansion. This causes deviations in the efficiency of the rocket as well as the total thrust output. A variable aperture rocket nozzle will allow the rocket to have peak efficiency at all altitudes, allowing for the development of single stage to orbit rockets. This means the rocket will not have to pack smaller rockets inside itself in order to achieve the same goal (of orbit). This will save fuel and material costs. I have created a variable aperture rocket nozzle that confronts the challenges of increasing efficiency and reducing build costs by using an electric drive system to turn a screw, which will variate the aperture of the nozzle. The model is not perfect due to manufacturing imperfections as well as intolerances that cause the system to leak. With lower manufacturing tolerances, the physical model can be expected to operate with little to no leaking. In its current form, it performs as a demonstration to future forms while maintaining much of the future form’s functionality. In the future, my rocket nozzle will hopefully be used in single stage to orbit vehicles which will make space travel cheaper and more ubiquitous.
  2. Minimal Head-up display in Ski Goggles for Navigation and Accident Prevention
    Alexander Galik
    Skiing off-marked trails is serious fun – but it poses serious dangers too. People get lost, buried in avalanches, or are oblivious of the cliffs and rocks that lead to accidents and injuries. I’m constructing a prototype of an addition to ski goggles that will make skiing safer by providing useful information to skiers using lights and speakers embedded in the goggles. This first version will have two main functions: to guide skiers to their destinations and to warn skiers if they are headed towards a hazard, like a cliff or rocks. The goggles will feature a GPS used for determining the user’s precise location and speed, and a compass used to determine which way the user is looking. These sensors, as well as an Arduino microprocessor, will be powered by a rechargeable battery. For navigation, a row of LEDs along the top of the goggles are used to indicate the direction of the destination. If the user needs to veer to the left, the lights to the left light up. If they’re looking straight at their destination, the LED in the middle lights up. This eliminates the need to use text or words to describe how to get somewhere; the skier just follows the light. The second feature of the goggles uses LEDs placed near the bottom of the goggles in conjunction with a speaker to alert skiers when they’re headed towards an obstacle. Code running on the Arduino continually checks the velocity and position of the user and pre-mapped obstacles to calculate how much time they have before they need to stop. The speaker beeps faster and faster as the user gets closer, like a parking sensor in a car, and a row of lights near the bottom of the goggles fills up to indicate the level of risk the skier is in.

11:35AM-12:05PM – Individual Student Presentations I

Mobile Phone EMFs and Induced Acoustic Behavior of Honeybees as Related to Colony Collapse Disorder
Quinn Mullineaux
Performing Arts Center

The decreasing pollinator population poses an imminent threat to global ecological health. In this study, the effect of mobile phone induced radiation was tested on honeybees as a potential factor behind honeybee loss. To simulate a beekeeper with a pocket, a mobile phone was placed at varying distances from the Langstroth hive. Inside the hive, a high sensitivity microphone recorded the acoustic behavior of the honeybees for up to 10 hours. Recordings were taken on warm sunny days to avoid disturbances in the audio files associated with adverse weather conditions.  For each audio recording Audacity was used to produce spectrograms and waveforms that uncovered trends in the hive’s behavior. An acoustic signal called “piping” was emitted by worker bees during some trials to indicate distress. These graphs, alongside the presence of bee pipes, revealed that EMFs impacted the honeybee’s behavior, specifically shown by the alterations in the frequency of their communication which dropped to as low as 250 Hz when the phone was placed in an active communications mode, half of the normal frequency.  It was also shown that the amplitude of the honeybees’ communication depended on the phone’s proximity to the hive. The radiation emitted from mobile phones was minimal when compared to emissions from substations, power lines, or transformers, which often appear in close proximity to commercial and natural bee colonies. The results of this experiment suggest that these EMFs are a factor in the weakening the pollinator populations around the earth.

Culture and Relevancy in the Classroom: A Case Study in Rural American Schools
Marshall Bessey
Choral Room

The US News and World Report ranked South Carolina 48th out of all states and the situation is even worse in rural counties due to rural schools struggling to recruit and retain high quality teachers. Success for All (SFA), a scripted instruction program, claims that their curriculum helps improve the academic performance of struggling schools, and the US Department of Education demonstrated their faith in SFA by giving them a $50 million innovation grant. This project statistically analyzed the SC READY test scores of Dillon and Marion County middle schools, two remarkably similar counties that have drastically different approaches to curriculum, to see whether scripted instruction at Dillon Middle School led to outperforming schools. Through this analysis, this research found that SFA’s program leads to little to no outperformance in both math and English language arts. With these results, the project concluded that the US Department of Education should not authorize grants used to adopt scripted instruction programs as they fail to improve academic performance because of how they negate culture, and emphasized the need for both constructivism and behaviorism in the classroom.

Crime and Punishment: Exploring the Effect of Benefit Denials on Criminal Recidivism
Lila Wells
Oak Room

With a mere 4% of the world’s population, the United States has 25% of its prisoners, and more than half of all Americans have had an incarcerated family member. More than 650,000 people are paroled each year, and the majority of them return to prison not long after being released. Criminal recidivism, or the tendency to re-offend, is influenced by substance abuse, racial prejudice, environmental challenges, and mental health issues. U.S. recidivism rates are incredibly high: 56.7% of offenders are rearrested within their first year of release, 67.8% within three years and 76.6% within five. This project closely examines U.S. legal policy and scholarly articles to identify and evaluate the justifications for restrictive policies. Additionally, by conducting and analyzing interviews with personnel working in prisoner rehabilitation, parole and probation, this research identifies essential factors that can contribute to recovery as well as those that can help reduce recidivism. This paper asserts that benefit denials ultimately hinder offenders’ success reintegrating into society and thereby catalyze recidivism.

Power Politics: How the WTO Has Become an Ideological Battleground Between the US and China
Bryn Morrison
Center for Global Studies (Room G113)

The World Trade Organization purports to offer cohesive stability in the global economic system. In reality, the geopolitical distribution of power makes the WTO a tool which powerful nation-states, such as China and the United States, use to exert influence. This international body has become an ideological battleground between the two nations competing for global hegemony. This presentation examines the function of the Appellate body as well as the trade policy review question and answer documents between the United States and China in order to discover the extent to which China is using the international body to advance its own ideological interests. The research conducted validated the claim that the WTO is an expression of distribution of power, finding that China has exerted its influence through its involvement with developing countries, and the United States has responded by paralyzing the function of the WTO. This research is demonstrative of a larger pattern of conflict between China and the United States, as an increase in Chinese power threatens the ability for the United States to spread democratic ideals.


Eradicating Heritage While Eradicating Disease: The Role of Culture in Treating Childhood Malaria in Tanzania
Alexandra Agnew
History Wing, Room G114

In 2015, about 303,000 African children died before they turned 5, which accounts for 70% of all deaths caused by malaria throughout Africa. Yet, countries such as Tanzania have been working effortlessly to save more children from the disease. In addition to affecting children, it impedes successful development of the country by preventing mothers from receiving an education and getting a job. Their methods have worked to an extent: between 2005 and 2016, under-five mortality decreased from 11.2% to 6.7% in Tanzania. Despite this, 93% of their country still remains susceptible. If Tanzania has taken such steps, such as implementing insecticide treated nets and indoor residual sprays to eradicate childhood malaria, why are Tanzanians still dying from malaria? By analyzing surrounding literature and research articles on childhood malaria in Tanzania, this research found that it was a combination of environmental factors, including cultural inhibitors, education of mothers and doctors, accessibility to health facilities, and available resources in hospitals, that together, allow malaria to persist and continue killing children throughout Tanzania. By making NGOs more conscious about the serious treatment factors, rather than prevention factors, Tanzania will be able to more effectively eradicate malaria.

The Effect of Pesticides on Seaweed Growth In The Context of Seaweed Farming
Marcus Ng
Science Wing, Room G112

Due to advancements in medical technology and growing and aging world population, the importance of seaweed farming has become paramount. This new population requires alternative food sources, one of which can be found through seaweed farming crops. However, pesticides that are used on land crops eventually run off into surrounding waters which can disrupt and inhibit the efficiency of seaweed farms. Insoluble pesticides and sediment become suspensions in water which scatter sunlight, preventing it from reaching the seaweed. Soluble pesticides can disrupt the exchange of nutrients between the seaweed and surrounding water. This project will look at how seaweed growth is affected in water with different pesticide conditions. Pesticides are expected to stunt the growth of seaweed based on their solubility in water and how that affects the photosynthesis. 

Implementing School Safety Countermeasures through Kinetic Nonthreatening Bulletproof Classroom Furniture
Patrick Howard
Black Box Theater

WARNING: The content of this presentation may be disturbing or upsetting to some audience members.

The epidemic of gun violence in American schools remains one of the most painful and labyrinthine social problems in our nation. A political stalemate between pro-gun and pro-gun-control factions has resulted in little meaningful legal change, and many of our country’s places of learning remain at risk. In the spirit of urgency, this project represents an early foray into protecting schoolchildren, faculty, and employees through nonviolent technology. The Sentinel appears as an approachable, new-and-improved Harkness™ table; contoured edges improve visibility for students, and maple exteriors allow it to integrate into any classroom style. However, at the pull of a ripcord, the Sentinel collapses four front legs, extends steel supports out of the back four, and bows its tabletop forward. The previously unassuming table becomes an unyielding shield for the 16 people it accommodates, bearing the same Level IV bulletproof armor that is trusted by the US Military as the highest standard of protection against handgun and rifle rounds. First aid kits and stretchers are stored under the table, ready to aid in evacuation efforts and hasten care for injured victims. Implementation of the Sentinel has the potential to protect the safety of students without sacrificing the peaceful aesthetic of classrooms, all the while popularizing furniture that encourages teamwork and collaboration. While other designers have already made headway with bulletproof desks in styles common in many schools and offices, this large-scale furniture will cover the discussion spaces, meeting rooms, and high-volume areas that remain without defensive options. While lawmakers toil to produce a more permanent legal solution, the Sentinel exists to protect students in the meantime. A problem like this one demands nationwide, sustainable policy change; yet, priority must be given to safety and defense of young people. The Sentinel can temporarily provide that safety and defense until our country can provide it permanently.

12:05–12:35 — Lunch

Working in Washington: A Conversation with Graham Bacher '13
McGrath Gallery

12:45-1:15PM – Individual Student Presentations II

West Over Rest: How US Self-perception of Superiority Infiltrates News of Syrian Refugees
Lilah McCormick
Performing Arts Center

The Syrian Civil War, which started in 2011, has now displaced nearly 13 million Syrians, or 60 percent of Syria’s pre-war population. Most refugees have fled to neighboring Middle Eastern countries, while the US has admitted very few. In order to understand why the US is unwilling to accept Syrian refugees, this paper turned to language in popular newspaper publications to uncover American perception of Syrian refugees. Rhetorical analysis revealed that US news articles dehumanize, homogenize, and subjugate Syrian refugees, while praising Americans for their generosity. These findings illuminate a frightening realization: American self-perception of superiority is so powerful it has infiltrated the very mediums from which we form opinions and make decisions.

Western Imperialism of Psychology: A Potential Threat to The Conceptualization of Depression in Japan
Lindsey Offermann
Choral Room

Before 2000, depression wasn’t recognized as a psychological distress that could lead to suicide in Japan. This lack of psychological history leads to a greater need to spread awareness into Japan, but with what cost? And to what end? This project works to understand psychology across cultures through the lens of depression in order to discover the extent to which the West is influencing the conceptualization of depression in Japan. The use of thematic content analysis to analyze the qualitative and statistical data of case studies, journals, and the DSM-IV allowed this research to find that Japan views depression extrinsically while the West views depression intrinsically, creating a barrier in the assimilation of psychology. The solution to whether a beneficial dissemination of Western psychological knowledge into non-Western cultures is possible can be found in the differences between the understanding and treatment of Depression in Japan and the West. The differences in the understanding of depression between Japan and the West prove to be too vast to make room for Western intervention without detrimental results, which is why a culturally sensitive approach much be utilized.

Genetic and Cell-Based Study of Infantile Myofibromatosis to Develop a Targeted Treatment
Annabel Roth
Oak Room

Infantile Myofibromatosis (IMF) is a rare, inherited autosomal dominant disease characterized by the growth of solitary or multiple tumors in the skin, muscle, bone, and sometimes organs. IMF is associated with two different mutations in the Platelet-Derived Growth Factor Receptor Beta gene (PDGFR-ß). In March of 2017, a young female was diagnosed with IMF and underwent surgery to remove painful, limiting jaw tumors. At that time, blood and tissue samples were collected for a detailed molecular investigation of her disease. DNA sequencing analysis identified a new PDGFR-ß mutation, Phe864Leu (c. 2590T>C). With the ultimate goal of treatment, this study will investigate the effects of her specific PDFGR-ß mutation on cell growth and behavior. The growth of BaF3 cell lines engineered to express this PDGFR-ß mutation will be compared to control cells to help establish if the mutation is either gain or loss of function. Western blot analysis of cell lysates will be used to investigate which specific proteins in PDGFR-ß’s signaling pathway are activated/inhibited due to the mutation. Based on the outcome, additional experiments to better characterize the mechanism of activation/inhibition are planned. Data supporting or rejecting the gain-of-function hypothesis will be important to better understand candidate treatments for this disease since both inhibitors and activators of PDGFR-ß are known.

Imagining the Immigrant: The Precarious Role of Photojournalism in the 21st Century
Charlotte Cohen
Center for Global Studies (Room G113)

The United States is a country comprised of immigrants, yet throughout its history we have debated the issue of who has the right to live in this country. One of the most contentious debates around immigration and citizenship involves the southern border and Latin American immigrants. Since 2016, the Trump administration's immigration policy and rhetoric have been restrictive and dehumanizing. As a result, the government held almost 15,000 immigrant children in custody as of December 2018. In a country as large and populous as the United States, many people experience the immigration debate exclusively through the news and social media, and in particular, photojournalism. These omnipresent images are often the first things people see and help form their perceptions of Latin American immigrants. This study analyzes images shown in the mainstream media depicting Latino immigrants in 2018. Through an analysis of framing techniques such as the placement of the subjects of the images, who is included in the images, and what the subjects of the images are doing, this paper explores the extent to which subjects are portrayed as one of two common types: threats or innocent victims. This study finds that photojournalists portray Latino immigrants as innocent victims, but victims who lack political agency. Such depictions serve as a check on the Trump administration by humanizing their subjects, but also show a selective part of their humanity and reality. The incomplete portrayals of Latin American immigrants, disguised as the truth, highlight the precarious role of photojournalism.

Interview Workshop
Nelson Graves, Founder of News-Decoder
History Wing, Room G114

Interviews are a fact of life, not only for newsmakers but for anyone applying for admission to a new academic program, for an internship, or for a job. They are also a means of gathering information, much as a student compiles research. An effective interview requires planning, skill at listening, and an ability to build trust with the subject of the interview. In this workshop, students will learn to build an effective interview plan, to select the right kinds of questions, to use fair verbal devices to elicit information and to dodge the pitfalls of telephone interviews – all worthwhile lessons as they face their own next challenges. Young people today are tempted to believe that the Internet envelopes the entire universe. By mastering interviewing techniques, students gird themselves to explore the “real world” around them, deepening their understanding of people, society, and events.

School Violence in 21st Century America: The Effect of Academic and Social Pressure on the Psyches of Adolescent School Shooters
Sophie Staeger
History Wing, Room G116 30

Within the first 21 weeks of 2018, there were 23 school shootings in the U.S. where at least 1 person, not including the shooter, was injured or killed on school property, creating a national average above one shooting per week. School rampage shootings are committed, almost exclusively, by adolescents. High school is a place more susceptible to erratic behavior than most others, and the 21st century has new driving forces that make life for adolescents competitive and stressful. College acceptance rates continue to lower and social media maintains an expansive popularity unmatched by any other time in history. Pitted against friends for college acceptance, grade point averages, and accomplishments, students must constantly compete with fellow peers. Also, extensive use of social media encourages comparison of body image, and other superficial values by adolescents. The resulting increases in depression and anxiety rates among young adults can exacerbate the mental states of already unstable character types. Through a psychological lens, this paper investigates why adolescent shooters choose to target the school environment and why such violence has increased in 21st century America.

The Impact of Increased Calcium Intake Levels on the Presence of Alzheimer’s Disease in C. Elegans Carrying the APP Gene
Whitney Rintoul
Science Wing, Room G110

Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is one of the leading causes of death in America, primarily affecting those 65 years and older. The amyloid-beta protein, found in humans, forms plaques in the brain killing neurons and ultimately leading to memory loss and cognitive dysfunction. Researchers have developed many hypotheses on what could potentially lead to AD in humans. This research assesses one of these hypotheses: that increased levels of calcium throughout one’s life can lead to Alzheimer’s disease. C. Elegans were purchased already expressing the APP gene, which was tagged with the fluorescence protein GFP. Four groups of plates with different calcium concentrations were made, and assays will be performed to determine the appropriate calcium concentration for use in future experimentation. I plan to assess the aggregation of APP by using fluorescence as an indicator of the protein. I predict that the worms living on more concentrated Ca2+ plates will have the most aggregation, and those on the control plates will have the least. Findings from this project could potentially uncover a contributing factor to Alzheimer’s disease, as well as influence other researchers’ hypotheses and experiments. If calcium is found to cause an increase of protein aggregation, it will be important to consider the implications of calcium intake in our diets.

GFA Robotics in FIRST Tech Challenge 2018-19 Season: Rover Ruckus
Alex Galik, Amy Petschek, Willem Schuddeboom & Eva Zhang
STEAM Shop (Room G019)

The FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) is designed for students in grades 7–12 to compete head to head by designing, building, and programming a robot to compete in an alliance format against other teams. The Dragonoids, team 4286, have been competing in FTC for eight years and build a robot each year for different challenges. This past season, the challenge was called Rover Ruckus where teams had to drop from and latch to the center lander, deploy the team marker, and collect silver and gold minerals. The team has three groups that work together: the build, code, and outreach teams. The build team prototypes and builds the physical robot. This year they used a mecanum drive train and designed a lift, a collection arm, and a shooter. The code team writes code for both the autonomous and the driver-controlled period. They allow the team to use Xbox controllers to drive the robot and the robot to drive around the field itself. Lastly, our outreach team plans events that reach out to our community such as Pack the House, Lower School STEAM Night, and International Beach Cleanup. Although we had a rough start at the beginning of this school year, we ended the season being number 2 in Connecticut. The robotics team always welcomes anyone interested to join. We have fun building robots and going to Home Depot.

1:20–1:50PM – Individual Student Presentations III

The Weaponization Of Social Media: Israel, ISIS, And The Changing Nature Of Asymmetrical Warfare
David Hoffman
Performing Arts Center

Since the advent of social media in 2004, warfare has travelled from the battlefield to the digital arena. With Americans spending an average of 6 hours a day on social media, it is more important than ever for the public to understand how global actors have weaponized social media domains. While critics have differing opinions as to how social media functions in wartime environments, there is no consensus surrounding social media’s effect on asymmetrical warfare. After analyzing thousands of social media posts from ISIS and Israeli sources, this project comes to the conclusion that the weaponization of social media has worked to diminish the gap that previously existed between global actors engaging in asymmetrical warfare. In addition to this conclusion, a methodic analysis of ISIS and Israel’s most recent social media activity works to identify various appeals that these posts make and expose the underlying techniques used to capture public opinion. By exposing these methods and techniques, this project seeks to prove that social media has become weaponized and that the definition of asymmetrical warfare must be reworked to more effectively capture the reality of our digital age.

The Effect of Growth Temperature and Annealing on the Degradation Rate of Newberyite Coated AZ31 Magnesium Alloy
Eva Zhang
Choral Room

This research aims to slow down the degradation rate of AZ31 magnesium alloy by fabricating a non-toxic magnesium-based newberyite (MgHPO4 • 3H2O) coating. The magnesium alloy with corrosion-resistant coating could be used to provide self-dissolving structural support for broken bones and torn ligaments, eliminating secondary operations for removal of implants. AZ31 magnesium alloy substrates were etched in a mixed aqueous solution containing phosphoric acid and calcium phosphate, then placed in an oven with the precursor solution and growth temperatures from 50℃ to 85℃. The coatings adhered well to the wafers as no coating was removed in the scotch tape test. Substrates were massed before and after the growth experiment and morphology and thickness were ascertained using SEM. EMPA gauged the chemical composition which corresponded to the percent composition of newberyite.  Greater mass gain and film thickness (40 𝜇m - 60 𝜇m) occurred at higher growing temperatures, albeit a grainy deposit. Degradation rates of these samples were slower (0.6 mg/cm2/day) as determined by SBF testing.  Annealing experiments of coatings deposited at lower temperatures were conducted.  SBF testing of annealed samples had more salt deposit on the surface and reduced the degradation rate significantly by becoming a barrier between the wafer and SBF. Depositions on curved objects showed excellent adherence and thickness uniformity, making it suitable for body implants. I conclude that the magnesium-based newberyite coating decreased the degradation rate efficiently, and is far superior to calcium-based coatings because of the cohesiveness between the magnesium coating and the alloy substrate.

Tribalism, Antagonism, Emotion, Mockery: Social Media’s Role in Undermining Modern Political Conversation
Michael Pratt
Oak Room

Political discussion consists of mockery, inflammatory rhetoric, attacks, and general unproductiveness. This all stems from the exasperation of tribalism or the tendency to attribute victimization, moral differences, identity, and in-group out-group mentalities to politics. On Facebook--the leader in users, traffic, and political news--political leaders such as Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump engage in tribal behaviors and gain massive followings of like-minded people that follow blindly. Due to this echo chambering and tribal rhetoric, users become more tribal and consequently engage in unproductive political discourse. This research analyzed this growth in unproductiveness and found there is far more unproductive conversation on tribal leaders’ posts. Furthermore, due to Facebook's politically friendly site, conversation is directed towards a tribe or the tribal leader instead of the argument itself. Through echo chambering and notoriety on Facebook, tribal leaders are gaining political notoriety and their tribal politics are creating political gridlock because of their “radical” tribal policies that no side can negotiate on. Political tribalism is becoming mainstream through Facebook’s very politically friendly site and the result is division, unproductive conversation, and the subsequent tribalization and division within our federal government.

Love Thy Neighbor: the Rwandan Gacaca Courts and Reconciliation in a Post-Genocide Society
Isabella Whelan
Center for Global Studies, Room G113

Within the course of 100 days in 1994, one-seventh of the Rwandan population was murdered by their own neighbors, friends, and families. In the years that followed, the government struggled to determine a justice system that could handle the volume of cases, bring justice to the millions of victims, re-integrate perpetrators back into society, and most importantly, reconcile the country. In the early 2000s, the government finally decided to implement the Gacaca courts: a system from Rwanda’s traditional and tribal roots that had been used in the past at a local level to settle disagreements. To determine whether the courts fulfilled the government’s objectives, this study conducted interviews, as well as analysis of the courts’ organization, execution, and results, ultimately finding that the courts brought truth, reconciliation, and justice to local communities. In regards to the Gacaca courts, this truth meant the inter-community dialogue and questioning that allowed for closure for the victims, as well as justice through punishment of the perpetrators. The Gacaca courts serve as an international example, illustrating that the process of national healing must include the pursuit of the truth, allowing for closure. 

Rule of the Radicals: Resistance of Democratic Systems to Illiberal and Extremist Elements 
Willem Schuddeboom
History Wing, Room G114

50 years ago, Europe was split into two political parties: conservative and liberal. Nowadays, the 150-seat Dutch parliament is split between 13 different parties, each with their own unique goals. As parliament become more fragmented, parties' scopes become more narrow. In fact, the Dutch parliament now includes 4 “single-issue” parties. Due to the structure of Dutch parliament, these single-issue parties have disproportionate influence. This scenario becomes particularly dangerous when illiberal parties such as the PVV promote nativism and work to undermine democracy. Through analysis of Dutch election results and party manifestos, this project explores why traditional parties have become less popular, why smaller parties are becoming more successful, and what the implications of these changes are. By identifying trends in the Netherlands, this project determines which systems of democracy are the most resistant to illiberal influence.

Free Speech Under Attack: How Inclusivity, Politics, and Political Divisiveness Has Usurped the Free Exchange of Ideas On College Campuses
Jack Wolfsohn
History Wing, Room G116

There was a time when America’s public college campuses were largely havens for free and open discourse between students from across the political spectrum. This is no longer the case. College administrators have instituted speech-policing policies and methods to protect students from speech they find disagreeable or offensive. Fewer college freshman identify as politically moderate than ever before in American history. Students are also taking action, protesting and shouting down speakers they disagree with and submitting complaints to the university. Many times, college administrators cave to student pressure, and in doing so, undermine First Amendment rights and violate the schools’ commitment to creating an environment that allows for a marketplace of ideas and academic freedom. Approaching this through the lens of 10 public universities, this project explores the actions taken by students and college administrators to defend or obstruct free speech. This research found that civil liberties groups and conservative organizations are intervening in campus affairs to ensure that students across the political spectrum are heard. State legislators are getting involved as well. These findings show that the free speech debate, and its relevance to academic freedom on many campuses across the country, reveal increasing pressure to regulate campus climate and curriculum.

Trx2 Deficiency Induced Impaired Mitochondrial Integrity and Adipocyte Dysfunction
Grace McGonagle
Science Wing, Room G110

My research suggests that a deficiency in Thioredoxin-2 (Trx2) protein leads to mitochondrial dysfunction and development of Type 2 Diabetes. Removal of the Trx2 gene led to decreased expression of mitochondrial DNA, impaired energy production processes, impaired fat storage (for structure and cell function) and breakdown (for energy), and imbalance of blood glucose levels.

1:55-2:25PM – Individual Student Presentations IV

Mobilizing the Homeland: Military Rhetoric in Bush’s War on Terror
Ethan Parker
Performing Arts Center

The September 11 attacks marked the beginning of President Bush’s War on Terror: an amorphous conflict marked by a series of expensive military deployments and invasive domestic policy objectives. Although popular opinion of this “war” waned as time passed, Americans seldom questioned President Bush or the decisions of his administration in the immediate aftermath of September 11th. This project investigated how Republican rhetoric in the post-9/11 era was able to elicit such sweeping popular support for its largely conservative agenda, including the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security, often portrayed as the domestic arm of the “war.” Through a rhetorical analysis of three speeches from Republican elected officials, this research discovered that such rhetoric exhibited an overwhelming reliance on militaristic imagery and references to warfare. This rhetorical approach worked to legitimize the unsanctioned and unofficial “war on terror” which, by extension, legitimized the Department of Homeland Security. The rhetoric sold this narrative to the American people by conflating the proposed Department with military success abroad, which was patently untrue. This specific case study relies on the rhetorical strategies of “emotional frame-shifting” and “rhetrickery”, both of which seek to distort reality through emotional appeals. The hypnotic effect of political rhetoric after September 11th demonstrates that the connection between emotion and politics is not coincidental, and often has severe material and psychological repercussions.

Middle School Capstone Research: Culture and Globalization
Moderator: Claire Bouyssie, MS Global Studies Liaison
Choral Room

  1. How K-Pop has Positively Impacted the World
    Abigail Nason
    This paper explored the influence of Korean pop music, also known as K-pop. The primary argument of this paper was to prove that K-pop has positively changed the world, by helping to ease tensions with other nations and bring people together. This topic is significant because K-pop may just be a music genre, but it has a massive, almost unnoticed positive impact on the world.
  2. A Silver Lining in the Black Death
    Nancy Duer
    This paper explored the beneficial effects of the Black Plague on the world. The primary argument of this paper was to prove that the Black Plague caused positive advancement in culture, medical studies, religion, and economics. This topic is significant because despite being one of the most infamous pandemics in the moment, the Plague was still able to pave the way for a brighter future.
  3. Girls’ Education in Rwanda
    Chloe Whelan
    This paper focuses mostly on the circumstances young women in Rwanda face after having to leave school and the different organizations that are trying to help these young women. It starts with a short introduction and background information on the Genocide and ends with the ways organizations are trying to help. This shows the contrasts between what Rwanda was like then and what it is like now.

#MoreThanAnAthlete: How Social Media has Turned Athletes into Activists
Zach Liston
Oak Room

Colin Kaepernick: an all-pro NFL quarterback who found himself out of a job after the 2016 NFL season. Kaepernick’s actions that season were historical for all athletes, however what most NFL fans, and sports fans in general, fail to recognize is that Kaepernick followed a script that was laid out decades prior by professional athletes. Whether it was Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Summer Olympics, Muhammad Ali’s refusal to be drafted into the Vietnam War, or Kareem Abdul Jabbar's consistent activist mindset as a rising black basketball player in the late 1960’s, political and social activism has always been a part of professional sports. As sports fans we have become accustomed to athletic activism in our nation's sports. We see NBA players wearing dark hoodies for Trayvon Martin, Steph Curry dismissing an invitation to the White House from President Trump, and NFL players still kneeling for the national anthem. These actions have become a part of the identity of our nations professional sports leagues for one major reason: social media. Leagues’ top players have risen to platforms of influence with the ability to reach millions of people with a touch of a button, and none have taken advantage of this opportunity more than LeBron James.

Morality vs. Capitalism: Using Factory Farming Legislation to Uncover Legislative Hypocrisy
Eva Ebbesen
Center for Global Studies (Room G113)

When people look at American democracy, they think of freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom to vote, freedom to protest. They think of representation and participation of the public and adherence to its opinions and beliefs through our structured legal system. What if our view of our government's legislative system is all wrong? Through a study of factory farming and Big Agriculture in America, this paper reveals that politicians lack a moral authority to consult when enacting legislation. Today, special interests in factory farming have created a new, corrupt legislative process that overrides our moral imperative to treat all animals humanely. Through direct comparison of U.S. public opinion surveys and United States Animal Welfare Legislation, this paper proves that our laws do not reflect our morals and investigates and questions the validity of politicians’ responsibility to represent the constituents they supposedly work for. 

Fabrication and Analysis of a Biosensor using Carboxyl MWCNTs and PTPN22 Antibodies to Detect Antigen Levels Through Resistivity Changes
Lila Wells
Science Wing, Room G103

Approximately one in five Americans suffers from an autoimmune disease. A common diagnostic option for this is a blood test; however, the propensity for misdiagnosis and inconclusive results is endemic. Biosensors are devices used to detect substances by combining a physicochemical detector with a biological agent. In this study, a biosensor was synthesized using carboxyl-functionalized, multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs)—due to their high conductivity and low resistivity levels—and PTPN22 antibodies, as their dysregulation often leads to autoimmune diseases. This project aimed to determine if the biosensor could be used to detect antigen irregularities. The phases of this project were as follows: synthesizing the biosensor, testing in solution with PTPN22 antigen, analyzing results and completing these steps again with 6% functionalized plasma MWCNTs (pMWCNTs). A general trend observed in pMWCNT trials: as the amount of PTP antigen increased in solution, the pMWCNT sensor’s resistivity decreased. The most dramatic results were illustrated in the biosensor with 4 µL antibody and .3000 g of pMWCNTs with 10-20 nm diameters: its resistivity decreased from 1.78 to – 1.91 kΩ when placed in 2% and 3% PTP solutions, respectively. When antigen levels in solution were increased, the biosensor’s resistivity decreased, indicating that the conductivity of the MWCNT-antibody complex increased as it interacted with the antigen, as conductivity is inversely tied to resistivity. This sensor can potentially be implemented as a diagnostic tool for patients with a family history of autoimmune diseases or those who currently struggle with them.

Middle School Capstone Research: Political Problems in National Contexts
Moderator: Jeremy McWhorter, History Faculty
Black Box Theater

  1. Voter Suppression in America is Real
    Andrew Roth
    This paper explored voter suppression which has had a long tradition in America and persists today in many states impinging on citizens’ fundamental right to vote. The main argument of the paper is how effective voter suppression tactics, like restrictive voter ID laws, purging voter rolls, and gerrymandering, regularly make it difficult for Americans to vote and unfairly target specific groups of voters, like African-Americans and other minorities. This topic is significant because the right to vote is very powerful and fundamental to a strong democracy, and every American should have a voice in choosing their leaders.
  2. The Importance of Net Neutrality for Online Development
    Davis Jordan
    This paper explored what net neutrality was, and what the benefits and problems it created resulted in it being repealed. This repeal lead to a lot of controversy, and the benefits appear to often outweigh the reasons to repeal it. Without net neutrality online commerce and development can be seriously damaged, along with the possibility of internet service providers pushing certain agendas and blocking others, creating a situation that has lead to a fight across state and federal levels to save the Obama-era laws that once mandated this.

2:30–3:00PM – Closing Ceremony, Performing Arts Center

Bob Guffin, History Department Faculty
Introduced by Ward Abel, Director of Global Education