RISE-ing Star: One Student’s Perspective

What’s up everyone?! The amazingly busy Mrs. Canady has asked me to write a blog while she is trying to find us a Bio Safety Level 2 laboratory cabinet. (This is what will allow RISE students to do advanced bacteriology research, but more about that later.)
Anyway, I’m Kacey Mewborn and I have been a part of RISE for three years now. In that time, so many people have asked me about it, and I can never answer fully because RISE simply cannot be summarized. RISE stands for Research, Innovation, STEM Learning and Entrepreneurship. It’s made up of about forty students who are really passionate about their areas of interest. Inside RISE, there are Robotics Teams, Mock Trial Team, and a whole lot of us doing individual research projects for science competitions.

The hard work and responsibility is clearly evident because some people think that we are insane for choosing to do this. The truth is that doing really hard work creates a true sense of accomplishment. For the past two years I’ve placed first in my category at the Regional Science Fair and gone on to the Florida State Science and Engineering Fair. My work has focused on invasive species mainly in Florida—the Zophobas morio beetle. I’ve investigated the effect of environmental conditions on life cycle. This year I’m branching off and conducting research on a different invasive species that is causing huge damage in Florida—the Asian Citrus Psyllid.

As much as I love experimenting with invasive insects, I would not do RISE if that was all there was to it. The friendships you make while in this program are so genuine because we all can just be ourselves. One of my favorite events is our annual trip to the University of Florida for a research symposium in January. I like staying in a hotel with my friends and seeing the diverse and fascinating work that’s happening in labs across the campus. I also enjoy hearing from other student researchers from across the state and providing feedback for them when they present their work.

One of the exciting things about RISE is seeing the projects that other students undertake. In my first period class, another student is doing some amazing things with microscopic organisms I don’t even understand! Mrs. Canady is constantly working to track down the equipment and materials we need to do the wide range of work that happens every day in our classroom. Right now as I write, Mrs. Canady is trying to find us a Biosafety Cabinet so we can do our BSL 2 microbiology research here at school rather than having to travel to a University. From Biosafety Cabinets to robotics parts to 3D printers, every day is a new adventure. We never know exactly what to expect, and that’s half the fun!