Sophia '27 learns metalworking at Artisan's Asylum during a recent Project Week

What Happens During Project Week?

Every Commonwealth student, every year, undertakes a project of their own choosing and design. For our ninth-, tenth-, and eleventh-graders, this happens during Project Week in January. (Seniors and more industrious underclassmen undertake a three-week project in March.) This weeklong intensive is an opportunity to test-drive an industry—genetic research, family law, magazine publishing—or test an idea, whether it’s designing a knitting pattern, proving a mathematical theorem, or measuring the luminosity of the stars. This year, Commonwealth students shadowed oncologists and museum curators, conducted research into esophageal implant and book bans, built sailboats and SciFi worlds. No two projects are ever quite the same, but you can get a taste of what students do via the sampling of (highly condensed) reflections below, sorted loosely by industry.

Related: Exploring Greater Boston (and the Known Universe)

Biomedical Research

Channing Division of Network Medicine (Jacob ’26)

Over Project Week, I shadowed a respiratory genetics researcher at Harvard Medical School’s Channing Division of Network Medicine. For the first few days, I learned some of the R (a programming language for data analysis and visualization) packages used for interpreting DNA methylation data and was able to predict the age of people using different epigenetic “clock” models. I was then able to compare the results against the reported age and assess which clocks were the most accurate under which conditions. I attended presentations about the effects of vitamin D on lung function, the importance of open source software in medicine, how we are able to link different foods to gene expression, the use of computer vision technology in medicine, and how an individual’s environment affects their epigenome and epigenetic age. I also learned to use the WGCNA R package, which allowed me to map out which methylation sites (the parts of the epigenome that determine whether the gene will be expressed or not) were most correlated to each other and which genes they actually were connected to. From this, I could determine whether an individual had a respiratory illness, their sex, and from where the cell sample was taken. Calculating this required a lot of computing power, and it took a couple hours to create the map for just a fraction of the data. By the end of the week, I’d learned a lot not just about computational statistics and biology, but also how science is done in a professional environment.

Chetty Lab (Ramya ’27)

I had the opportunity to shadow in Chetty Lab, which specializes in neurodevelopmental disorders and seeks to develop effective preclinical disease models to pave the way for new opportunities in therapeutic intervention via human pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). I shadowed a few post-docs and others in the lab: One was working on the application of brain organoids grown from iPSCs in the study of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) as well as understanding ASD on a more cellular level. Another post-doc was working primarily with microglia, immune cells of the brain that play a role in synaptic pruning during development. I mostly observed the post-docs at work, very rarely interacting with cell lines themselves, since most of them were the results of extensive research and careful monitoring. However, the lab members were all very receptive to questions about their work and enthusiastic to explain higher level concepts in biology.

Neuroscience Research (Angelina ’27)

For my stretched-out Project Week, I worked on two separate but related projects with two different mentors: a neuroscience professor at the University of Vermont and a post-doc at Princeton who is currently doing neuroscience research. I completed a total of three problem sets and one big final question that tied all the information I learned together. I started doing neuroscience problem sets in mid-December. The first problem set had ten questions, ranging from questions about the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS), axon regeneration in each system, and commonly used neurology terms (like axon, dendrites, synapse, bouton, etc.). The second problem set had six questions about synapses in the CNS, the corticospinal tract, and the relationship between spinal nerves and our motor abilities. The third problem set had three questions about neuronal wiring, neuronal plasticity, and neuronal pruning. During Project Week, I answered the final question, which was about a girl who had her right hemisphere removed and ended up walking out of the hospital herself ten days after the surgery. I hypothesized different ways that could explain her fast recovery, coming up with theories relating to plasticity in young children, neuronal pruning, and regeneration in the peripheral nervous system as well as the corticospinal tract. I also worked on understanding and manipulating the neuronal circuit for odor in a worm—my favorite part of the project! I really enjoyed both halves of my Project Week, and I have deepened my curiosity for neuroscience! 

Harvard Apparatus Regenerative Technology (Brandon ’26)

Harvard Apparatus Regenerative Medicine have designed an esophageal implant made up of a scaffold of nanofibers created with the process of electrospinning and stem cells that are attached to the scaffold to grow into new esophageal cells following the implantation. This product will greatly improve the patient’s quality of life after surgery as their stomach or colon will be able to perform their jobs as normal. As of the week of my project, the product was going through the clinical-trial testing phase. We researched many esophageal disease–related patient advocate groups such as ECAN and ECEF and the top hospitals that potentially could be new clinical trial sites. We emailed many of the advocate groups and formed a list of advocate groups and hospitals as well as their contact information for future use. We also created social media accounts to attract more patients that may not be part of any advocate groups. We researched the cost of treatment and how common esophageal diseases may be. Although I did not do much related to biology, this was one of the fascinating applications of science in the real world to improve our quality of life. 

Rowland Institute at Harvard (Will ’27)

For my Project Week, I interned at one lab at the Rowland Institute that focuses on in vitro study of Gene Transfer Agents. On a surface level, I was working with plasmids (rings of DNA, the form in which DNA is stored in most prokaryotic cells, like bacteria) and transplanting one section of this vector of DNA for an insert. We achieved this by using enzymes such as CutSmart to snip specific parts of DNA, and then we made an insert mix of specific DNA we wanted to replace the snippet with. The project I was working on was a small step in a very long process. Throughout the week, I learned a variety of lab skills, including how to use a thermocycler, heat shock E. coli cells to get them to replicate, use serological pipettes, pour Agarose gel plates, load samples using glass plating beads, and, most excitingly, how to “run a gel” (electrophoresis). After the DNA samples are loaded, a scientist will run an electric current across the gel to isolate the DNA’s size. This is exceptionally useful when testing to see if the insert has been successfully attached to the vector. I’m glad I could make some progress in this research and hopefully advance the study of these mysterious mechanisms at least a little bit!


Computer Science and Programming

Cold Chain Technologies (Govind ’25)

Cold Chain Technologies is, at heart, a box manufacturer. Specifically, they design and produce boxes made to protect the temperature-sensitive goods within them, most commonly vaccines and prescription drugs. My Project Week work was an expansion of what I had done with them over the summer, which was using shipping data to analyze frequent paths of packages from their origin to destination. Historically, customers would sometimes choose a CCT Package solution that was either insufficient or over-designed for distribution, which would result in drugs being rendered unusable and customers overspending on packages. Once all the different shipping paths are found, a temperature-time graph known as an ambient temperature profile can be generated using ambient weather data along the locations where the package traveled. Together, these can be used to inform the customer as to the most cost-efficient package solution to choose. I worked to bring the very technical prototype I created over the summer to a real product specification, while learning more about how their business operates by sitting in on meetings. Later in the week, I presented my proposed solution, which was using Sankey diagrams to model the frequency of pathways in the supply chain. 

Proving Mathematical Theorems in lean (Isaac ’27)

My project was about proving mathematical theorems using a coding language called lean. Lean is specifically designed for this. It has a variety of “tactics” that simulate various methods of proofs. For example, some tactics apply theorems, others split goals into multiple cases, and some use the method of induction. Using these tactics, it is possible to write proofs, in code, of theorems of many fields of math. I spent the first few days of my project working through the Natural Number Game, getting a sense of the basic workings of lean as well as the basics of the Peano axioms and natural numbers. I also tried out a few other lean games, including a Lean Intro to Logic, the Set Theory Game, and the Euclid Game, which is an attempt at creating a “geometry game.” These games gave me an interesting way of thinking about proofs, and were nicely structured and checked for correctness by the computer. I began to code in Visual Studio, learning how to create my own theorems and proofs in addition to those already existing in lean with code. I focused on theorems relating to even and odd natural numbers, as well as “threeven,” “throver,” and “thrunder” numbers, made-up distinctions which cycle in threes rather than in twos (0, 3, 6, 9, and 12 are threeven; 1, 4, 7, and 10 are throver; and 2, 5, 8, and 11 are thrunder). On the final day, I learned how to create a game with a series of levels where the goals are to prove many of the even/odd theorems I worked on the previous day. You can play it here

Spectral Sciences (Vybhav ’27)

My mentor at Spectral Sciences Incorporated and I eventually landed on a project of creating a Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram (HR-Diagram). An HR diagram plots luminosity against temperature, but their latest version of the database did not have these values. However, we could use other values that are directly related to luminosity and temperature. A star is a near-perfect black body, meaning that it absorbs all radiation. The emitted light in each wavelength can be described in a special curve that is dependent on the temperature. By sampling the amount of radiation in a few spots, we can get an approximation of temperature. Generally, temperature is described using BP-RP or the radiation in the blue and red band passes (the filter in that radiation) and the luminosity is the green band pass value, as the green value is generally the highest and most indicative of the luminosity of the star. We can generally assume the G magnitude to be the apparent magnitude of the star. From here, we can convert the apparent magnitude to the absolute magnitude (the apparent magnitude of a star at a distance 10 parsecs), and then convert to luminosity. To arrive at the temperature, we need to arrive at the radius, for which we need the mass, which we can get from luminosity. Combining these will allow us to get our full HR Diagram. We started by taking the photometry values in blue, green, and red, and comparing them to their existing blue minus red value to make sure that they were the same, and from then on, we simply took the blue minus red value from their database. 



Arabic Calligraphy (Aasya ’26)

For this project, I started by learning about Arabic Calligraphy from medieval times (Kufic script) and biomorphic patterns. There are creative liberties taken with Kufic script, as the final result is more focused on the look rather than the message. I started by practicing the letters with a pilot parallel pen (0.3 mm) and a bamboo qalam (0.04 mm), a type of reed pen. To practice, I drew a grid consisting of a baseline, a middle line, and a top line measured exactly one and two centimeters apart. The letters had to be written from right to left, and the pen always had to be angled forty-five degrees to the right. I continued writing and practicing the letters until I could do them easily. I was given particular sayings or phrases from my mentor (already written in Arabic), which I had to “translate” into Kufic Script, like “The winds blow counter to what the ship wants” or “I struck two birds with one stone.” I also learned about biomorphic patterns, which originated in medieval times and can be found in architecture and the pages of the Quran. Biomorphic patterns consist of a lot of symmetry, so I started by creating an eight-star grid with the assistance of a compass and ruler. I painted it using gouache paints. I chose gold and Prussian blue, which appear often in Islamic art. 

Artisan’s Asylum (Sofia ’27)

This Project Week, I took a metalworking class at Artisan’s Asylum, a fantastic makerspace in Allston and an absolute dream to be in. There were shops for any craft you could imagine: woodworking, jewelry, bikes, casting, and, of course, metal. I learned how to use a milling machine to make a fidget (in the machine shop), use CAD softwares to make 2D designs that I cut on a plasma cutter and welded together, blacksmith, sculpt something to cast in bronze, use a mold made of sand, and more. I didn’t come in knowing how to do anything I did that week (except sculpt), and yet I got pretty good at metalwork by the end. We had an incredible group of teachers, so we were able to learn from the leading staff members of each craft. Not only were they knowledgeable, they took care to ensure we all had an amazing experience. This program taught me much more than I expected.

Knitting (Nora ’27)

During Project Week, I recreated and improved a sweater I had made a few years ago without a pattern. Since I learned to knit, I have been doing freeform projects rather than following a pattern for my creations. My results have not always been perfect, but I frequently enjoyed the process more than the end result. However, this left me more limited than I would have liked in terms of being able to knit more complex pieces of clothing. I decided to spend Project Week learning how to read knitting patterns and test my knowledge of them by trying to create my own. To do this, I would have to format the instructions for one of my own creations as a professional pattern. I realized I would get the most accurate result if I wrote down the instructions while knitting the piece, so I also took the time during Project Week to make another sweater similar to one I had made before. I spent hours each day working on my sweater. As I knitted, I wrote down what I was doing and later formatted it as a knitting pattern. Even though I did not complete the sweater, I did learn all the skills I need to finish making it and its pattern, and I’m continuing to work on it in my spare time. I now feel confident in my ability to read a pattern, and I’m looking forward to what my future knitting projects will bring me. 

Ryerson Design (Fisher ’25)

I worked at a woodworking shop with Mitch Ryerson of Ryerson Design. It was a hands-on experience, and I was involved with the actual crafting of the multiple projects we completed over the week. We first made mast hoops, which are used on sailboats to attach the sail to the mast. We used heavy machinery first to join, plane, and cut the wood into a long thin strip. I then tapered the ends of these thin strips using a hand-held plane. Next we steamed all of the strips and wrapped them around a mast-shaped cylinder. I nailed in copper nails and riveted the inside for an aesthetic flourish. I finally varnished them and sanded them over the course of the next week since it took so long for the varnish to dry. A small homework assignment was to draw a piece of furniture from three different angles. Mitch taught me how to properly format designs, what to draw for your client vs. what to draw for yourself, what is and isn’t necessary to put in, and more fundamentals to designing a personal furniture or woodworking project. It can at times be laborious but it is ultimately rewarding to create your own projects that you can take home. 

Entrepreneurship and Finance 

Car-Washing Business (Tomi ’27)

My project was to start my own car-washing business, going around my neighborhood giving sales pitches and washing customers’ cars, along with marketing my business. Prep work for this project was quite extensive. In fact, I had already begun planning in summer 2023. By the time Project Week arrived, I made sure to have all materials needed for car washing, such as microfiber towels, car shampoo, a foam hose attachment, and interior wipes, along with flyers and business cards. For the first two days of Project Week, my main goal was to get out into “the world" (around a two-mile radius around my house) to make my car-washing service known and hopefully gather some customers. I ended up knocking on around fifty doors, handing out eighteen flyers, and placing more than 100 business cards in mailboxes. Unfortunately, only two people were interested, but that was better than nothing. I did one wash on Wednesday and the other on Thursday, both of which went very smoothly. I also washed my parents’ cars and videotaped the process, complete with before and after photos, for the marketing side of this project, as these videos provide valuable information to customers who would like to see what a car wash from me would look like. Then I set up Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube accounts for my car-washing business and worked on editing the long videos. Overall, this project was an unparalleled learning experience for me, as it provided me with knowledge of how to start, run, and market a business, which will pay significant dividends in the future. 

Kaggle (Anna ’26)

As someone who loves math and computer science, I was lucky to spend my Project Week  at Kaggle, a data-science company under Google. The Kaggle community provides datasets on worldly topics, hosts data-science competitions, and teaches AI and ML. I used Kaggle’s “30 yrs Stock Market Data” in my project, through which I aimed to learn about analyzing market trends and the effects of current events to predict future prices and inform investment decisions. It was a pleasure meeting with my mentor at Google in Cambridge for an hour each day before going home to write my code and research events. The first programs were calculations of rolling averages, their percent changes, and their rates of change for each market in the dataset. The rolling averages smooth out day-to-day fluctuations to depict a larger trend and are more useful than periodic averages because they allow investors to make judgments even in the middle of a period. Using the plots my code generated, we investigated the Dot Com Bubble around 2000. I also learned about Pearson correlation coefficients to measure the growth relationships between different markets at the same period in time. To cap off, I attempted to predict Friday’s stock prices for Dow Jones, Nasdaq, and Barrick Gold Corp, using my plots of averages and changes as well as consulting news of predicted growth. I also applied my new knowledge by deciding how much I would invest in lower-risk and higher-risk markets if given a hypothetical thousand dollars. These provided insight into the thinking behind investments by fitting current data into both historical trends and recent events, then judging the factors that would have the biggest influences on the market. 


Norfolk Probate and Family Court (Matthew ’26)

During Project Week, I interned at the Norfolk Probate and Family Court, a district court in Canton. They specialize in mandating the terms of divorces, transferring legal guardianships and conservatorships, and determining the authenticity of wills and distributing property accordingly. First, I shadowed at the front counter to learn how a court case gets processed. I learned about motions, contempts, modifications, and dockets. My second day, I began to educate myself on actual court cases. I attended an official guardianship proceeding, a divorce hearing, and even a high school mock trial. During the proceedings, I quickly realized how hard it was to be a judge and how an attorney can guide their client through every step of the procedures, as well as representing them in court. I studied a very interesting probate case and even got to see the wills of many important historical figures, such as John Hancock and the Adams family.

Writing and Media

GBH Studio (Jaliyah ’27)

For Project Week, I shadowed my mentor at GBH. I went to the GBH studio and meetings for things like tech updates, events, migrating a website to a different platform, and diversity where we learned about affinity bias and how it impacts who we tend to surround ourselves with. Later in the week, I got to do some research for High School Quiz Show and visit the studio. I also got to meet a host and producers of the Culture Show (which my mentor had previously helped launch), another radio engineer, and the executive producer of High School Quiz Show. I got to ask the producer many questions, like if she’s experienced discouragement in the writing process and how she deals with it. On Saturday, I actually got to go behind the scenes for High School Quiz Show while the live tapings were filmed. I could see how the lighting was controlled, how the cameras were operated, what the stage manager’s job was like, how the host prepared before the show, and what the overall environment is like. I stayed for another taping on Saturday and got a more up-close view near the director, where I was mainly observing how the visual effects were queued in real time. I even got to switch between camera frames at the end of the taping. 

Pangyrus Literary Magazine (Will ’25)

I started Project Week by meeting with Pangyrus’s managing editor. She introduced to me the software that the magazine was built around: WordPress, Google Calendar, and Submittable. I made heavy use of Submittable, the software they used to receive and edit submissions. I sat in on an editors meeting, where they discussed the timing and theme of new posts for their website and Instagram. With two other interns, I was tasked with reading some short stories and thinking about them from the perspective of a literary magazine editor. To help us, the associate nonfiction editor walked us through how to critically read a story. On Wednesday, I was introduced to several more of the Pangyrus staff and their current project: a collection of twenty Phyllis Wheatley poems followed by twenty poems/essays by current Black female poets. The anthology had already been completed, but the hardest part of publishing a book, I learned, is always its marketing. They were going to draft more than thirty press releases to major and minor media outlets, as well as plan multiple physical stops where the book would be promoted. They asked me to create a spreadsheet where all of these events would be listed, as well as any other important details, which I did. I also weighed in on the images and design of some posts on the Pangyrus website.

Short-Story Writing (Sarah ’27)

For my project, I planned to edit a short story I had previously written during the summer that was around 13,000 words. I mostly just sat in various locations of my house and typed away at a keyboard for hours every day, which was very enjoyable for me. I wrote an outline of the first draft and then made changes to any scenes I wanted to update for the second version, while also fixing any holes or issues. Also, I worked on my characters, making improvements, developing them more, rounding out their personalities, etc. I spent the next days rewriting most of the story. Since I’m not a very fast writer, I spent a lot of time musing over what I was going to write and how I was going to write it; each day I wrote around 3,000 words. However, even though the physical writing for the story took only five hours per day, it felt like I spent much more time on my project, since I was constantly thinking about it. During breaks, at meals, and even going to sleep, all I was thinking about was what I was going to write next. Once I had rewritten the last scene, I took a break and returned to the beginning with fresh eyes.



Classical Composition (Linus ’27)

I chose to write a composition for Psalm 40 due to the complexity and variance in themes of its text. I chose the key of G minor because I like the complex and slightly stormy sound of it. While working, I tried to apply some of the rules and techniques of composition we learned in AP Music Theory and combine them with my ideas of what the piece should sound like. Seventeenth-century part-writing rules were useful for starting the composition, but they are extremely formulaic, predictable, and restricted, and towards the end of the piece I found myself shifting more towards writing what came to me without constraints. I composed both with a piano and paper and by using online notation software that played the piece back to me so I could better hear the work in progress. Every morning I would write a new section, then edit it in the evening. It was difficult at times, as I felt as though every time I sat down, I wrote in a slightly different style. Despite these challenges, I felt like I was able to produce a piece that, overall, was fun and rewarding to compose. If you would like to hear my piece, you can access it here.

Songwriting (Lillian ’25)

For Project Week I recorded four original songs, written over the past year on the guitar, with my own vocals. The songs have a bit of an environmental theme, but they’re also just about my life as a teenager. This has been a project I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but my summers are often busy, and I didn’t find the time until I remembered I could use Project Week. I started by spending about three or four hours going through old videos, then practicing the songs, playing to a metronome, and troubleshooting. After recording the guitar part, I did the whole process again (minus the metronome) with the vocals. My makeshift microphone stand was my chest of drawers and a stack of books, on which I placed the recorder. Although this project was very much a DIY home-studio recording, I think it was necessary for my first time, and figuring it out on my own made it a lot more exciting. This project was worthwhile not only in getting to really sit with my music, organize the songs, and play them but also as a first step in understanding the recording side of music. 


Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (Stef '26)

Over the course of the week on the Hematology/Oncology floor of Beth Israel Hospital, I shadowed different people who played different roles in keeping the floor running smoothly. I also helped out with some administrative and organizational tasks. I first shadowed a registered nurse, including rounding on all of her patients. We took vitals every four hours, which included blood pressure, heart rate, breath sounds, and, for some patients, blood-sugar levels. She talked to her patients about how they were feeling, discussed their plan of care, and did a neurotoxicity screen. This daily screening is an important part of working in a cancer floor, as any mental deterioration can be a sign that a chemotherapy treatment is having a negative effect. Next, I shadowed a nurse practitioner and then a clinical pharmacist. It was very interesting to learn about the pharmacist’s role in treating patients and how doctors, nurses, and pharmacists work together to determine the best combination of therapies for a patient. Finally, I shadowed a hematology/oncology doctor, seeing patients and learning about different courses of treatment. 

Grayken Fellowship in Addiction Medicine (Rimas ’25)

The goal of the Grayken Fellowship in Addiction Medicine is to train and educate social service workers to better assist those who use substances through clinical care, and to educate and advocate for public health. I got to know about the Behavioral Response team in the Grayken Fellowship. In non-behavioral health units, workers are less trained to deal with behavioral emergencies, which is where the Behavioral Response Team steps in. I became more educated about the non-stigmatizing language versus stigmatizing language to use when referring to patients with substance-use disorder and the importance of treating patients with dignity and respect. For example, instead of using the phrases “drug habit,” “abuse,” and “problem,” one should use “substance-use disorder” or “addiction,” “use/misuse,” and “risky, unhealthy, or heavy use.” I learned a great amount from this project, not only about logistics but also the way each member of the team works together when tackling certain situations. 

Sturdy Memorial Hospital (Angela ’27)

I worked in the MS (Multiple Sclerosis) clinic, Crafts and Diversional activities, Wound Management, and Patient Transportation in the ER. In the MS clinic, I shadowed two doctors and saw their patients. They showed me MRI scans and explained how ambiguous the field of neurology and the disease MS can be. It was really cool seeing the ways the doctors tested a patient’s nerve sensitivity; one of the doctors used a tuning fork’s vibration moving up a patient’s leg to test where the patient could or couldn’t feel it. Crafts and Diversional Activities are mainly run by these two lovely volunteers who spent their Tuesday mornings making hundreds of creative themed crafts to go out on the patient’s food tray. During my shift I helped make Valentine’s Day–themed coasters and baby hats for the maternity ward. In Wound Management I would help nurses with things like restocking rooms, calling patients regarding appointments, and pushing patients in wheelchairs to their cars. Finally, at Patient Transportation I helped patients find their way around the hospital and find where their family members are staying. All in all it was a very rewarding and revealing experience. It has only strengthened my interest in the medical field and made me grateful for not only the medical staff but the volunteers, who play such a big role in helping patients feel more welcomed.

Museum Curation

Armenian Museum of America (Aritra ’25)

After two projects in biology, I decided to do something related to history: shadowing the curator of the Armenian Museum of America. Given the close proximity of the museum to my home and my general lack of knowledge of Armenian culture outside of art and architecture, such a project proved an excellent opportunity to learn both about the work behind operating a museum and of Armenia. In one of the museum’s libraries, the curator kindly explained the basic elements of his work to me: sorting arrivals, the painstaking process of including new acquisitions in the archive, noting basic information about their contents, and checking whether any given object was a duplicate. I helped him sort objects, after which he began to fill the archive of the contents, all the while discussing aspects of Armenia’s history with me. In particular, I found his explanation of the Armenian language particularly interesting, as despite having no close ancestors, its Indo-European origin led to many fascinating similarities with Sanskrit. I also transported paintings from their storage into a display hall to prepare for an upcoming exhibition. Overall, in addition to gaining a deeper understanding of Armenia—particularly the crucial role of Armenians as merchants in the Ottoman Empire and Mughal India—I came to learn a great deal about the complex work required to properly curate the collection of a museum. 

Maine Mineral and Gem Museum (Ranjan '26)

My project was at the Maine Mineral and Gem Museum in Bethel, Maine. (Last year, I visited this museum, and the place really interested me, especially the meteorite gallery.) I was specifically working in the meteorite gallery and spent most of my time guiding visitors through it, as well as using the AllSky camera network to track meteors. The museum is where it is because of a type of rock called pegmatites found in Maine. There are many historical mines and important minerals nearby. The notable ones the museum displays are feldspar, mica, watermelon tourmaline, spodumene, and rose quartz. One of the researchers I met discovered new minerals, such as tantalo-wodginite, using the gear there. They also made a breakthrough discovery relating to pegmatite formation. They do not have the largest collection of meteorites in the world, which is the Smithsonian, but they have the rarest. Since they have so many meteorites, they allow visitors to hold lunar and martian meteorites, the only place where it is possible for the public. They also allow visitors to touch Murchison, a scientifically important meteorite due to the discovery of amino acids and other organic compounds in it that must have originated from space. 


Office of State Senator Sal DiDomenico (Tomás '26)

I shadowed Massachusetts State Senator Sal DiDomenico and his staff through various meetings and briefings at the State House. First, I sat in on a Zoom briefing organized by Republican Senator Peter Durant and hosted by Health Rights MA and We The People 50. I then went to my first senate hearing on addressing various issues within the general framework of the criminal justice system. Senator DiDomenico briefly spoke in support of a bill giving Government-issued IDs to people coming out of prison before heading back to his office to get some work done. I got to go to two briefings: one on funding translation of government documents and websites and another on funding the north-south rail link to fully connect the commuter rail system. The second briefing on the north-south rail link featured many veteran Massachusetts lawmakers, including former Governor Dukakis. I also went to a public meeting with advocates for bike lanes and other policies to benefit bike owners. This meeting was organized by Senator William Brownsberger [Commonwealth Class of 1974] and was sponsored by MassBike. I learned a lot about the state legislature and the importance of state government as a whole from Senator DiDomenico and his team. Getting to see the state legislature functioning up close has had an immeasurable impact on my view of state politics, and I am a better-informed Massachusetts citizen because of it. 

Service and Advocacy

American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts (Koki' 26)

The ACLU is a national organization of lawyers and other advocates that fight for individual freedoms, including freedom of speech, religion, privacy, and others. I worked at the ACLU’s office in One Center Plaza in Boston. I began by writing testimony in support of An Act Regarding Free Speech, a bill currently being heard in the state congress. This bill would help prevent politically motivated book bans in Massachusetts—there were forty-seven attempts to ban books in the state last year. I helped create fact sheet folders for representatives and senators in preparation for a lobbying event taking place the following day, and I worked with the Western Massachusetts team doing some research on the powers and organization of the Greenfield school committee. I also attended a lobbying day with ACLU, Indivisible Mass Coalition, and Act on Mass in support of three bills: the Location Shield Act, a voting access bill that focused on same day voter registration, and the Sunlight Bill. The Location Shield Act is a priority for the ACLU and bans the sale of location data to data brokers, and the Sunlight Agenda focuses on government transparency. I shadowed an Act on Mass employee as she went to lobby her representative in support of the bills and then helped deliver fact sheet folders to the congressional offices. I also edited a draft script for an ACLU TikTok on book bans. I spend most of my time reading about federal and international politics, and it was very enlightening to get a closer look at local government. 

Charles River Center (Andrew ’25)

The Charles River Center specializes in assisting adults with various kinds of disabilities. They have a large property that is walked daily by many people, whether they use the Center’s services or not. During Project Week, I spent most of my time mapping and measuring various walking paths around the Center’s property to help bring more people to the Center and create a greater sense of awareness of the organization’s work. It would also encourage physical activity among clients and create achievable activity goals. I marked the routes on an aerial map of the property and proposed it to the Center’s leadership. A good amount of my time was spent in meetings with the Center’s staff, where I proposed my ideas and heard the Center’s feedback. With their approval, I measured the paths and determined where we could put path and trail markers. A good portion of my work was also done at home, where I organized my plans and measurements for easy access, and researched different trail markers. All the staff were extremely nice and helpful, and many people were excited about the work I was doing. The property is also very beautiful, and it was very enjoyable spending my time walking around outside. 

Mass Audubon's Habitat Education Center and Wildlife Sanctuary (Bea ’27)

Habitat is a part of an organization called Mass Audubon, “the largest nature-based conservation organization in New England.” Over the course of my week, I did a variety of different projects. I learned to feed the goats hydrated hay pellets and give the male goats medication. I also chopped hay down, because, for some of the older goats, their teeth may become so worn down that it becomes a choking hazard to consume regular hay. I also helped the staff maintain the trails and roads. Since people are constantly coming to walk around, the roads need to be clear from snow and ice. I helped shovel snow and sand paths. Habitat uses sand, not salt, on ice because most salt that can be purchased for driveways and sidewalks is actually very harmful to wildlife and the environment. I also did “trail evaluations,” where you pick a path to walk down and note anything that needs to be fixed. Later in the week, I did wildlife observation. Wildlife observation is when you sit in a place for a certain amount of time and record everything you notice—for example, a bluejay chirping in a tree, moss growing along the pathway, etc. While I was doing this observation, a few deer passed by the window, and I saw many birds, rabbits, and squirrels. Habitat was full of wildlife! 

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