For senior high-school student, Maya Federle looking for a research opportunity this summer was easy. Federle sought a program that would allow her to do research close to home and that also allowed a flexible schedule.
That is when Federle applied to Project STEM at Indiana University. This program aims to offer university-level research experience to high school students interested in science and engineering.
The students are teamed with a faculty mentor and/or graduate researcher to make a true scientific impact during the summer. Although before applying to the summer research program Federle had no prior research experience, she was able to learn quickly with the training provided.
“It is definitely interesting,” Federle said. “A lot of nuances that I didn’t get to see before.”
Federle’s experience has allowed her to understand how researchers come up with a question and can further understand the process.
This summer, Federle is working alongside graduate student Catalina Suarez-Rivera in Dr. Linda B. Smith Cognitive Lab in Psychological and Brain Services Department to extend her research project. Federle is helping begin the next stage of the research.
Dr. Suarez-Rivera project consists of looking at infants and their executive functions like memory and attention. By looking at these social connections between infants and parents, it could provide training grounds for other protocols.
“We are lucky to have her,” Dr. Suarez-Rivera said. “We collect data, we score it, and then we analyze it.”
Dr. Suarez-Rivera encourages students to take the chance to participate in these research programs.
“[We] always have work and we need the help,” she said.
During her five years at the lab, she has seen the growth of students from the first time they begin training when they develop more confidence and exposure in the process of research. She believes that this allows students to ask questions in an unexplored territory.
Before Federle went straight to the research, she had to watch e-training videos about the risks, the responsibility of conducting research, and the ethics behind the study.
Federle tasks consist of transferring data, analyzing it, and understanding the experiment case by case. She is responsible for making decisions in consistent data points.
“It was hilarious to watch the videos,” Federle said. “Just seeing the goofy things kids did when put into scenarios was fun.”
This summer, Federle completed coding the tasks for Dr. Suarez-Rivera and will be transitioning to a new project with postdoctoral fellow Dr. Jeremy Borjon.
To learn more about how high-school students can apply to Project STEM, visit http://iuprojectstem.org/