For the eighth year in a row, the Garrison Forest School community came together to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival celebration, a harvest festival celebrated in many Asian countries and by people of Asian descent around the globe.
Tag: WISE Program
While other little kids spent their weekends watching cartoons, Garrison Forest senior Katherine Paseman focused on designing a balsa wood bridge as part of Destination Imagination’s bridge-making competition. She and her fellow teammates placed third—in the globe.
Fast forward about nine years to find Paseman entrenched in another contest measuring young people’s creativity and genius, the Intel Science Talent Search. In this, the most prestigious science research competition in the nation for high school seniors, Paseman was named one of only 21 semi-finalists from Maryland; in all, 1,794 applicants entered the competition. Her project? “A New Model Relating Hemoglobin, Hematocrit, and Optical Density.”
“In order for the device to work, we need a mathematical model of how light interacts with whole blood. We create one by extending existing equation-based models using intuitions from 3D geometry,” Paseman said.
Super-teens—those whose achievements reveal an extreme level of intelligence, focus, and perseverance—always make me scratch my head in wonder. Paseman is one of those head-scratching sorts of young women. When she started explaining her research project to me, she spit out the words hemoglobin and hematocrit so fast I had to ask her to slow down. From what I eventually was able to gather, Paseman is developing a special type of hemometer (a device used to measures a blood’s hemoglobin, a protein that offers clues to many medical conditions) by using light, instead of drawing blood. Don’t ask me how.
I may not fully understand how Paseman envisions analyzing patient’s blood by shining light on their skin as opposed to pricking it with a needle. But beyond this incredibly cutting-edge diagnostic methodology that Paseman is developing—the seed of which was planted in her as a young girl when her mother experienced repeated dizzy spells that turned out to be due to low hemoglobin levels, and which she continued to cultivate most recently as she traveled to India in December 2013 with Hopkins engineering researchers to test several models of non-invasive blood analysis—what I really wanted to know was this: How does a seemingly ordinary girl like Paseman, who loves to dance and sing and is prone to giggling, possess such profound intellectual curiosity, when so many girls today continue to underperform in science and math and to enter STEM (science technology engineering math) fields at a depressingly low rate, especially compared to their male peers?
As I probed Paseman about her background, I began to grasp how she has become the confident young budding scientist she is today. Parents of young girls, you may want to lean in.