The Ultimate Testimonial: Weaving Alumni Threads into the School’s Culture

00027by Barbara Campbell, Director, Alumni & Parent Relations

Part of Falmouth Academy’s mission acknowledges its location in the heart of a scientific community of international renown – Woods Hole, which has always been a great asset to our science program. Scientists mentor students and judge Science Fair projects as well as offer internships to students who want to immerse themselves in original scientific inquiry in research laboratories.

And when we’re lucky, alumni, who have studied under these masters and have advanced in their fields, return to Falmouth Academy to guide current students.

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Dr. Sarah Twichell ’99 talks to Ava P. ’20 about her project, “The Effect of Red Tea on the Heart.”

The Science Fair, now in its 28th year, has been an active venue for alumni participation. (Thursday, February 18, 2016; public viewing is 6-7 pm.)

Alumni judges bring a breadth of experience – and a breath of “I’ve been in your shoes” – to the students lucky enough to connect with them.

Dr. Sarah Twichell ’99 is a pediatric nephrology fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital. Because she was a student here and also a veteran of many science presentations through the years, she empathizes.

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Charlie F. ’18 shows WHOI engineer Clifford Pontbriand ’99 his project, “Analysis of Wind Turbine Blade Design to Enhance Electricity Production in a Small Scale Wind Tunnel.”

“I clearly remember the nervous feeling while waiting for the judges to arrive. I can appreciate the time and energy that goes into each project, and the many months that went into designing and carrying out the projects. I can certainly relate to the students. I want to respect the amount of effort I know goes into each project by being as engaged a judge as possible.”

She added, “I still use many of the tools I learned as a Science Fair participant, from developing a hypothesis to presenting my research in my current field. Participating in the Science Fair not only encouraged my interest in science and led me into a science-based field, it also provided me with a strong foundation for my post-FA research endeavors.”

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Dr. Tim Cronin ’02 and Mia L. ’17 confer about her project, “Making and dissolving Hard Candy.”

Dr. Tim Cronin ’02, postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University, said, “When I tell students that I went to FA, it makes them feel a little more at ease because they know I was once in their shoes.”

A climate scientist, Dr. Cronin noted, “My perception of projects is somewhat influenced by my continued learning. Each year I come back to the Science Fair knowing more than I did the previous year, but the students are still only 7th to 11th graders. This may make me ask harder questions as time goes on, but hopefully I don’t come off as too mean! On a few occasions I’ve gotten to judge someone two years in a row, and that’s really nice because I can see how much they have learned.”

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 Kristin Montville ’05 discusses a ballista built by Charlie K. ’18.

He said that having done Science Fair projects at Falmouth Academy made him much more confident about his ability to choose and tackle scientific problems on his own. “This has been a valuable skill throughout college, grad school, and beyond. The FA Science Fair is a great tradition and I hope to continue to be a part of it for years to come!”

Public viewing hours for our 28th Science Fair are 6:00 – 7:00 pm, Thursday, February 18, 2016.

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