A graduating class of 43 students from Aberdeen High School's Science and Mathematics Academy displayed and presented their senior capstone projects to peers, mentors and teachers during a gallery walk on the evening of May 19, a week before they graduated from SMA.

The senior capstone projects were the result of a year-long research class in which the students worked closely with a mentor who was a professional scientist, mathematician or engineer.

This year, 17 SMA students received mentors from Aberdeen Proving Ground.

The students showed off their poster displays and explained their projects in a gallery-type forum while five other students - James Pritt, Gabrielle Stearn, Melanie Kirkpatrick, Stephen Albert and Julianna Dunbar waited to make presentations in the auditorium.

The senior capstone project was created to accomplish three major purposes for the students:
Integrate science, mathematics and technology in an authentic way.
Provide for interaction with the professional science community.
Allow for individual inquiry and discover using tools, techniques and valid protocol inherent in real research.

The mentors volunteered their time to guide students and impact their expertise in an area that they are interested in studying. Many students chose a project in a field of study that they want to pursue in college.

Several students earned scholarships as a result of their academic achievements while attending SMA.

Ashley Eidsmore, a senior at SMA said that she felt her education has prepared her for work she would like to pursue in the future. Her capstone project was the development of a guinea pig's (Cavia porcellus) brain atlas.

Eidsmore's mentor was Dr. John McDonough, from the U.S Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense.

Eidsmore said that there is sparse literature on the structure of a guinea pig brain, unlike other rodents such as mice or rats. Her goal was to update the guinea pig brain atlas, by providing more details.

"Doing the capstone project was a good experience," she said. "I learned how to do research in a laboratory. I also learned how to budget my time in an effective manner. These are skills I will need in the future."

Eidsmore added that in the fall she will be attending Purdue University to study mechanical engineering.

She added that she recently received a top scholarship from the International Test and Evaluation Association.

"I definitely think that my experience at SMA helped me earn the scholarship," she said.
Eidsmore's mother, Alison Eidsmore, said that she felt her daughter received an excellent education by attending SMA.

"I think that these students are beyond prepared," she said. "I am impressed."

Tracy Newman, who works for Edgewood Chemical Biological Center's Corporate Communications, said that she was impressed with the students' organization and articulation of the projects.

"Each of the students offered an impressive and well-articulated summary of their respective projects," Newman said. "Not only are the students academically successful, they are excellent public speakers as well."

Newman added that Stephen Sanner, a senior mentored by ECBC's Dr. Way Fountain, discussed his capstone project, "Designing an Archival Ink," with an audience of potential ECBC mentors during a luncheon in April at ECBC's Berger Laboratory Complex.

Representing mentors who will begin working with SMA students this fall, Dr. Vipin Rastogi of ECBC's Research and Technology Directorate also attended the celebration.

Gareth Davis, a science teacher at SMA said that the teachers and the administration are grateful to have support from the community, especially supporting the mentorship program.

"It is fantastic that the mentors give their time to make a difference in the students' education," he said.

"We are blessed in terms of location," he added, referring to the school's close proximity to APG.

SMA coordinator Donna Clem said that she was proud of the work of the students.

"As you graduate from the SMA and your journey continues, there is no Garmin to guide you," Clem said during the event. "Instead, be confident that your acquired knowledge, experiences and grit will allow you to persevere and stay the course."

Clem added that the SMA class of 2009 will be receiving nearly $4.2M in total scholarship money.
After the gallery walk there was a program celebrating SMA's class of 2009, where special awards were given out.
Brian Simmons, director of the U.S. Army Evaluation Center, and the 2009 inductee into the Aberdeen High School Hall of Fame, gave remarks during the program. (See article below on Simmons' induction.)

Simmons said that he was encouraged by the enthusiasm and motivation of the students, adding they have a bright future ahead of them.

"I challenge you to think big," Simmons said. "Think of education as a life-long experience."

For more information about the academic program, visit the SMA Web site, www.scienceandmathacademy.com.

Special awards
Jaquelyn Booth - C. Warren Mullins Award for Leadership
Alexandra Lowery - Robert L. Johnson Award for Perseverance
Melanie Kirpatrick - Dr. Bill Richardson Award for Creative Vision
Sara Laskowski - Donna M. Clem Award for the Spirit and Purpose of the SMA
Richard Latham - Dr. Dennis L. Kirkwood Award for Exceptional Work Ethic
List of APG Mentors and SMA students
Dr. Michael Quinn, U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine - Elizabeth Blasdell
Michael Padovani, U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center - Nathan Bour
Dr. Jim Bailey, APG Directorate of Safety, Health & Environment - Kimberly Capers
Dr. Benedict Capacio, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense - Julianna Dunbar
Dr. John McDonough, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense - Ashley Eidsmore
Dr. John McDonough, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense - Cory Harrop
Dr. Shane Bartus, U.S. Army Research Laboratory - Albert Hewitt
Dr. Douglas Cerasoli, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense - Melanie Kirkpatrick
Dr. Mark Johnson, U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine - Sara Laskowski
Paul Moy, U.S. Army Research Laboratory - James Pritts
Dr. Margaret Hurley, U.S. Army Research Laboratory - Nadja Rhodes
Dr. Augustus Fountain, U.S. Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command - Stephen Sanner
Dr. Deidre DeRoia, Directorate of Public Works, contractor - Erin Van Seeters
Dr. Tusit Weeraooriya, U.S. Army Research Laboratory - Benjamin Ziemski
Dr. Joel Kalb, U.S. Army Research Laboratory - Stephen Welborn
Dr. Shasi Karna, U.S. Army Research Laboratory - Alexander Wachsman
Suzanne Brady, U.S. Army Materiel Systems Analysis Activity - Andrew Thacker