AP Research Projects

Delaware Valley School District  |  Posted on

The AP Research Wedding Ceremony was held in February once all students were approved by the district’s IRB. Each student vowed to not change their research topic and committed to overcome obstacles that may arise.

AP Research (2nd Course in AP Capstone Diploma program) is an interdisciplinary course that allows high school seniors to conduct independent research. Only six other schools offer it in northeastern Pennsylvania. All 12 students in the class were responsible for conducting independent research, analyzing sources and evidence, and writing an academic paper, as well as presenting their research findings to a panel of experts.

All student projects must be approved by the district’s Institutional Review Board (IRB). The IRB application and approval process typically takes 4-5 months.

Abstracts from the student projects follow below.

Difference in Grade Point Averages for Student-athletes In-season v. Offseason
This study reviewed the academic performance of 139 DVHS student-athletes who graduated in 2022 and 2023 and compared their in-season grade point average (GPA) with their off-season GPA. Previous research suggests that the time commitment to sports could affect a student’s academic performance. A study by Schultz assessed the difference between in-season and offseason GPA for students from midwestern high schools between 2006 and 2011 found that junior varsity athletes performed better academically in-season, while varsity athletes performed better academically offseason. In another study, Scott surveyed student-athletes from 425 colleges and concluded that those with low academic preparation and those in higher profile sports performed worse in-season than other student-athletes. De-identified DV graduate data was obtained from both the guidance and athletic offices and sorted according to quarterly GPA, in-season vs. off-season, and course difficulty (concepts, regular or honors/AP). A Paired Sample T-Test was used to determine statistical significance (p high > super shoe, and that a grass surface would produce the lowest force and concrete the highest. A circuit was created that included a force sensor connected to an Arduino and placed in a running shoe to measure impact force and transmit that data to a computer through Bluetooth. It was determined that the high stack height shoe produced the largest impact force and the super shoe produced the lowest force for a runner on a treadmill. Measurements for grass, asphalt, concrete, and rubber have not been completed yet due to problems with data transmission from the sensor.

The Correlation Between Works of Art and Prominent Social Reform Movements
Societal norms may have the power to limit or to support artistic expression. Art has the potential to influence society in several ways, including changing opinions. This project looked into the complicated relationship between art and society. Art produced around two social movements, Women’s Rights and the LGBTQ+ Rights, was analyzed in order to determine if any correlation existed between the progression of the social reform movements and creative forms of activism. Five pieces of art created during each movement were studied, along with text sources that were used to analyze the time-frame of the movements and determine what major events occurred before and after the chosen art pieces were created. It was concluded that creative activism, in the form of visual art, may be effective at raising awareness and creating an impact on the viewer. However, the social movements appeared to have a much larger impact on the art created during the time-frame of the movement. Most of the art created during the movements had little audience reaction at the time, but proved effective in recording the events of the time.

A Case Study of Programs That Provide Vocational Education to Incarcerated Adults
Research has shown that vocational training in prisons can significantly reduce recidivism rates and improve post-release employment. However, the availability of such programs varies widely across county correctional facilities. This study sought to answer the question: To what extent are vocational programs available to inmates of county correctional facilities in the tri-state region of Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey? It was hypothesized that smaller jails and those with
tighter budgets would have fewer vocational offerings compared to larger and better-funded facilities with more resources. A mixed-methods approach was used, combining surveys of nine county jail administrators, across the three states, with an analysis of public records containing vocational program data. Results indicated that only 40 programs were offered to 5305 inmates in the 8 county jails in the tri-state region. County correctional facilities in Pennsylvania had 46% inmate enrollment in at least one program, with New Jersey at 20% and New York 12%. There were considerable disparities across facility sizes and budgets. Smaller and less funded jails had significantly fewer programs available to inmates. These findings highlight the need for increased investment and standardization of vocational rehabilitation opportunities in county jail systems. Expanding access to such programs could better prepare incarcerated individuals for successful reentry and employment after release, ultimately reducing strain on social services and recidivism rates. The results of this study may be used to inform policy decisions and target funding initiatives to improve vocational training access for inmates across the tri-state region.

Soundproofing: Limiting The Movement of Sound Through Air
Traditional soundproofing techniques, such as acoustic foam absorbers, and newer technology, such as acoustic black holes, have been shown to be effective at decreasing both transmission and reflection of sound waves. However, different methods are effective at different frequencies and there is no universal method that applies to the entire range of human hearing. This study involved construction of a sound testing chamber, a foam absorption device, and a concentric
circular acoustic black hole. The two devices were then tested in the chamber for their ability to reduce reflection and transmission of 400 Hz, 3,350 Hz, and 10,010 Hz sound pulses. Reflection reduction was measured by the time for the echo to decay to the pre-pulse level in the chamber. Transmission was measured by the amplitude decrease of the pulse as it traveled across the device. Results showed that at 400 Hz, the acoustic black hole device was 20% more effective at decreasing reflection but the foam absorber was 52% better at reducing transmission. At 3,350 Hz, there was no significant reflection reduction difference between the two devices, but the absorption device was 108% better at decreasing transmission. At 10,010 Hz, the absorption device reduced reflection 133% better and reduced transmission 12% better. For overall sound transmission, the acoustic black hole performed better at the higher frequency and the sound absorber at the lower frequency. For reflection, the device’s performance was similar. Future research of a device combining the two methods may be worth pursuing.

Indoor Vertical Farming: An Outer Space Simulation
This project involved an attempt to grow cabbage in a rotating hydroponic environment. NASA is planning a long duration spaceflight mission to Mars in the near future. Most of the available data regarding astronaut health in space is for shorter time periods, like days and months. A trip to Mars would be years. Healthy diets containing fresh fruits and vegetables, along with extended time in space away from Earth’s gravity are concerns for their possible negative impacts on astronaut health. Vertical farming and hydroponics have been used to grow plants in space, and rotation has been proposed to simulate gravity. For this project, cabbage seeds were sprouted and placed in identical growing environments, one rotating at approximately 20 rpm and one stationary. Stem and root growth and direction were measured over time to compare plant development in the two environments. Absorption spectroscopy was used to analyze the cabbage leaves from the two environments for nutritional differences. In addition, freeze dried cabbage nutrition was measured through absorption spectroscopy and compared to the cabbage from the two environments. Results showed that experimental environment cabbage growth was inefficient and no leaves were available for spectral analysis. Similar nutritional patterns were observed between the non-rotating environment and freeze dried cabbage. The cause for the inefficient cabbage growth in the rotating environment could be a subject for future research. Knowledge in the areas of simulating gravity through rotation and growing food in rotating environments may be useful for maintaining future astronaut health as they travel to Mars.

Olfactory Stimulus and Recall of Different Emotional Memories
The olfactory system connects directly to the portion of the brain that regulates and mediates emotions, known as the amygdala. Research suggests odors may be especially potent reminders of autobiographical experiences and better memory cues than other sensory stimuli. As olfactory stimuli may trigger the recollection of happy childhood memories, they also can trigger negative Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) memories. This begs the question: Which type of emotional memory, happy or sad, is more likely to be recalled under the influence of an olfactory stimulus. This study used heart rate variability (HRV), variation in time between heartbeats, as an indicator of emotional state. Participant HRV was measured while exposed to both an olfactory stimulus and one of two different 10-minute film clips, happy or sad. After two weeks, subjects were re-exposed to the same olfactory stimulus, their HRV measured, and their self-reported
emotions surveyed. Average HRV and percent change between initial and secondary measurements were calculated for each participant. The HRV results showed that sad memory was more likely to be recalled under the influence of olfactory stimulus; the average percent change in HRV for the sad group was lower. However, the survey results were contradictory and indicated that happy memory was more likely to be recalled; the percent change of self-reported emotions of the happy group between initial and secondary data collection was lower. Normal variations in heart rate, limited sample size, and/or pre-existing memories associated with the films or stimulus may have contributed to the contradictory results.

Impact of a Cardio Exercise Warm Up on Aiming Ability of Esports Athletes
Engagement in esports has raised concerns about player health as a result of the sedentary nature of the daily lives of esports athletes. As a result of these concerns, esports organizations have begun to implement physical exercise in the schedules of their esports athletes. The aim of this research study was to identify whether the use of cardio exercises prior to esports sessions would result in an impact on the aiming ability of esports athletes. In this study, participants played six games of an aim training application. Before three games, a cardio exercise warm up was performed by the participants. A quantitative analysis to determine whether there was a significant difference in the aiming ability of esports athletes based on whether they engaged in cardio exercise before playing esports games or not. The results show that the use of cardio exercise prior to engaging in esports matches does have an impact on the aiming ability of esports athletes. The majority of participants experienced an improvement in aiming ability during matches where cardio exercises were performed by the participants beforehand. These results are consistent with previous literature discussing the relationship between performance in esports and physical activity. Although further controlled research is necessary, results suggest that a higher level of aiming ability is associated with the use of cardio exercise prior to the matches. Qualified health professionals involved in esports may utilize this research as a way to improve player performance, reduce health impacts, and extend career length in esports.

Future Artificial Intelligence in Tax Strategy
Artificial intelligence (AI) involves making computers that can think like humans. The current versions of AI are particularly effective at processing large amounts of data and recognizing patterns better than humans. Future versions of AI may be able to make human-like decisions based on that pattern recognition. AI is making its way into a variety of fields, including business and accounting. An area of accounting that involves both large amounts of data and complex, strategic planning and problem solving is tax strategy. Currently, AI is used for the data analysis part of tax accounting and in some tax preparation software, but the future uses are not known. This study surveyed certified public accountants (CPA) for their opinions about how possible advances in AI may change the field of tax accounting. It was found that, over the next five years, AI is not expected to have a major impact. The prevailing opinion among CPAs surveyed was that tax strategy is a very complex and individualized service, requiring experience along with deep learning and problem solving capabilities, and that AI is not there yet. However, they did indicate a belief that AI is coming, and both current and prospective tax accountants should embrace AI and learn as much as they can about the utilization of the technology in tax accountancy.