STEM is taught by Ms. Curran. At MAMS, we have two school wide fairs. The first one is the “December fair” which is essentially a check point for progress and an opportunity for students to practice presenting their project. The second fair decides who moves on to the regional fair.

According to the CDC, at least 1 in 25 hospital patients acquires an infection, costing the U.S. government approximately $35-$45 billion per year in medical expenses. Contaminated medical devices cause 60-70% of these infections. Because pathogenic bacteria form biofilms on static medical devices, treatment for these infections often require surgery and prolonged antibiotic therapy to remove the infected device and sanitize the area. However, both of these elements of treatment can have adverse effects on the patient. To solve the problem, I attempted to create a cost-efficient photodynamic system to allow for the medical implant to lyse bacteria close to it when the implant is exposed to light of a specific wavelength. I incorporated methylene blue (MB), a photosensitizer dye, into polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), a material commonly used in catheters, using the swell-encapsulation-shrink process. Then, I tested the photodynamic efficacy of the system through a colony forming assay involving E. coli, one of the most common biofilm-forming bacteria. A Mann-Whitney U test indicated that there was a significant difference in cell viability between PDMS and PDMS-MB (p = 0.002). There was also a significant difference between cell viability in the irradiated group and the non-irradiated group in PDMS-MB (p = 0.002). This novel photodynamic system has the potential for use in healthcare settings to decrease nosocomial infections. Here is my final STEM thesis if you are interested. I will present this project at the NCSSS Summer Research Symposium in Mississippi.

In STEM, we have also learned about statistical tests we can use to analyze data. My group made a presentation on paired and unpaired t-tests, which can be found here. T-tests can be used to analyze the average difference between two sets of data.

For the second part of the year, we worked on our STEM II projects, where we created assistive technology for clients at seven hills. My group was assigned to a client who had limited motor skills that wished to play and compose music. Because of their condition, they were not able to push buttons with their hands, requiring an alternate method to play notes. Our developed device is composed of a tablet mount with a connected battery pack. The tablet will then be mounted in front of the user who will be able to play music from moving their nose in front of the tablet. For more information on how the app works, check out the CS portion of this website where the app will be explained in more detail. Below is our device with tablet set up.

STEM Setup