A Staples High School student, inspired by a science research course at the school, has been selected for a prestigious summer internship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Research Science Institute.
Zach Effman, a junior, is one of 80 students chosen from an international field of applicants to attend the six-week program, working one-on-one with an MIT professor on a research project.
When Effman was a Staples freshman, he heard Nicholas Morgan talk about the Authentic Science Research course he co-teaches at the school. In the program, students hone in on a particular topic to research; discover how to research it, and then follow through with the challenges of hands-on research.
He decided to delve into the mathematical chaos in solar systems and wrote code that numerically simulates how solar systems evolve over time.
Effman is the third Staples student selected for the MIT program. In 2010, Yuri Lenskiy worked on theoretical aspects of quantum computers, and Tessa Green studied nuclear reactor designs. Both are now MIT undergraduates.
"Zach is a great person to work with," Morgan said in a press release from the school district. "He's dedicated, focused and creative."
The teacher described Effman's computational astronomy experiment as "trying to answer how stable planetary orbits are from gravitational perturbations from other planets. He's modeling some of the many star systems recently discovered by astronomers, and looking at how stable they will be millions of years in the future."
Before attending Staples, Effman was a student at Westport's Kings Highway Elementary School and Coleytown Middle School. In addition to his Authentic Science Research work and other classes, he is captain of the math team, and a pole vaulter in indoor and outdoor track.