AP Expo asks students to answer life’s big questions

Are children more likely to conform/model than adults? Julia Mularczyk, left, and Jessica Piotrowski were ready with an answer at the AP Expo on June 6.



How clean is your kitchen cutting board? Would you hug a stranger? What types of music help with memory?

These were just a few of the questions that were explored by Southington High School’s advanced placement (AP) students, and their answers were on display in the high school on June 6.

Natiya Washer holds a large ball moments before dropping it to demonstrate the impact of mass on velocity.

The annual AP Expo displayed 205 projects, completed by Southington’s AP students to showcase their work. Students spent the last month creating projects based on what they learned throughout the year to share with friends and families at the event.

Teachers must complete course curriculum by the first week of May so that students can take the corresponding AP exam in order to receive college credit. But what’s left to do during the last month of school?

“The expo is a collaborative effort that began with AP teachers after the exams were finished,” AP Biology instructor Dave DeStefano said. This was the seventh year of the program.

Ben Russman and Michael Mauro pose in front of their AP Political Science project regarding U.S. Presidential succession.

Students pair up and begin researching a relevant topic that interests them, and groups work together to complete a demonstration. The projects come in a wide variety depending on their courses of study.

The physics projects were composed of 3-dimensional, interactive models that explored the relationship between speed and velocity, while history and political science projects consisted of research-based posters and displays. IPads and laptops were plugged in to demonstrate the computer science students’ work, and there was even a robot circling the cafeteria floor.

Of the 18 AP courses offered at SHS, 10 were represented during the expo. Many students were enrolled in multiple AP classes this year, so if all of their classes assigned projects, they were seen scrambling across the cafeteria to help show their different projects.

AP teacher Richard Niro said the whole idea behind the event was to gather everyone in one space to share their work. “It’s just a way to honor the students,” he said.

Faculty members select two or three projects from each class for the “best in show” table, but students also had a voice for selecting the top picks. Niro said students were able to go online and vote for their favorite project from each course, and winners received small prizes.

Michael Mauro and Ben Russman’s political science project on presidential succession was one chosen for the “best in show” table. They examined what happens if a President of the United States becomes unable to perform his or her duties. Their project tracked the next 17 people in line for the job.

Their research was centered on the 25th constitutional amendment, which deals with succession to the presidency and establishes procedures for filling a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, as well as responding to presidential disabilities.

Another project, entitled “Let the Tooth Be Told,” explored proper dental care. A physics display hung items from a ladder to explore questions about motion and gravity.

Another project investigated environmental issues. Yet another studied tuberculosis in great details, including symptoms, treatment, and impact around the world.

Still another searched for psychological answers to the question, “Are children more likely to conform/ model than adults?”

Everywhere you turned, there were projects that answered these sorts of questions.

The annual event also serves as a course sampler for underclassmen that might be interested in pursuing advanced placement courses. The expo gave a wide sample of subjects taught at the school, and visitors could talk to current students.

DeStefano said he hoped attendees could get a taste of what’s offered at the school. The majority of AP students are juniors and seniors, but a small amount of sophomores are in the mix.

 To contact staff writer Jen Cardines, email her at jcardines@southingtonobserver.com.

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