Hi everyone! As my summer at TRIP is finally coming to an end, it is amazing to see how much I’ve learned in just 5 weeks. I met so many adults that will have an impact on my career path in the future, and have made friends that have shaped me in numerous ways. There’s so much I’ll take away from this program, and it’s unlike any other experience I’ve had in high school.
My independent project was originally based on how antibiotics affect microbiome diversity (gut bacteria), however, I decided I wanted to dig in deeper; I decided that I would also want to study female fertility as certain studies show there may be a negative impact on fertility if one consumes antibiotics. Therefore, I compared the gut bacteria and female fertility of fruit flies exposed to antibiotics at two different levels-- flies that were barely exposed to antibiotics and progeny that were raised with antibiotics at all times. I tested three different antibiotics, which were Bactrim, Cipro, and Penicillin/Streptomycin (Pen/Strep). I found that Pen/Strep decreased the microbiome diversity significantly more than Cipro and Bactrim, which I was surprised by. Pen/Strep also had a significantly higher embryos/female ratio, meaning it expedited fertility as compared to control conditions. I found this piece of data very interesting due to the fact that Pen/Strep is one of the most commonly used and accessible combination of antibiotics in the world. It made me question how much I really knew about antibiotics and how little we know about the drugs and medicine we consume. Additionally, I thought it was great that we were free to conduct as many or whatever assays we wanted to, which allowed us to shape our independent project in ways we never thought of. Originally, I planned on only doing the microbiome assay, but then I realized I wanted to learn so much more. Over the course of the entire independent project, I conducted the female fertility and microbiome assay a total of 12 times!
Although my five weeks at TRIP are over, I am still collecting data and working to take away the most information possible. This program was an amazing opportunity, as I got to meet other kids with similar interests with me, and had three instructors that were also really passionate about STEAM. We were given freedom with how we conducted our independent projects, but we were also given the structure to learn and become the self-directed learners we are now. Other than the specific facts I learned about antibiotics during this summer, I learned what it may be like to work in a lab. I learned why multiple trials are important, how to utilize time efficiently, and truly understand how your surroundings can skew your data. We were constantly working to make sure we get everything done, and were fully immersed into STEAM during the 10 days we spent there. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to become apart of the TRIP family--I loved every minute of TRIP!
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