Severna Park senior William Snyder’s project “Evaluating Autism Connectivity Models” earned him a tie for first place at this year’s Anne Arundel County Regional Science and Engineering Fair. He advanced to the international fair, which will be held in Los Angeles this May.
Severna Park Senior William Snyder Ties For First Place At Regional Science And Engineering Fair
Senior William Snyder represented Severna Park High School in March during the 50th annual Anne Arundel County Regional Science and Engineering Fair. Snyder’s project, named “Evaluating Autism Connectivity Models,” created a new method for evaluating autism neuroimaging studies.
Snyder stumbled upon previous evaluating methods by accident while looking at research from Professor Michael Anderson at his parents’ alma mater, Franklin & Marshall College, and decided to apply it to the clinical field. Anderson posted methods from open source software, which Snyder was able to use.
“There wasn’t much convergence in the field, and I just wanted to help produce better results,” said Snyder. “I figured I could apply his same methods to the field of autism MRI studies, and that drove the methods for my experiment.”
To enter the fair, Snyder had to complete a copious amount of paperwork with detailed descriptions about his project, and he had to create a tri-fold display showcasing his research and results. On the display board, Snyder included numerous images of data from brain scans, as well as the methods he used and the data he collected.
“Mrs. [Lindsay] Mossa was a great help in sponsoring me and helping me find out how to apply for the fair. Mrs. [Sue] Hannahs was also a great aid with helping me sort out the paperwork so that I could participate in the fair,” said Snyder.
To complete the necessary trials and run his experiment, Snyder used open-source software that Professor Anderson had also used, in addition to raw brain scan data that was made public and had been released online. “I just downloaded the data and used multiple softwares to help do some calculations with it. All of the work was done on a Macbook Pro I share, so I'd frequently hog the computer to run programs for two days straight,” said Snyder.
While at the fair, Snyder browsed other students’ projects, but he also needed to stand beside his project for the majority of the time in case a judge or other spectators came by to look at his own.
“Two different rounds of judges would come along,” said Snyder. “There were category judges and special award judges. The whole process took about four to five hours.”
In addition to judges, Snyder conversed with other people in the field of psychology and medical sciences. “The judging was a great experience because we got matched up with professionals in the field who helped us learn more about how to improve our experimental designs,” said Snyder.
This May, Snyder will enter his project in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, located in Los Angeles. “I will actually be missing last week of high school, of senior year, to go to Los Angeles, and I’m excited for that,” said Snyder. The international fair includes winners from all the regional competitions across the country.
Snyder plans to attend Bucknell University in the fall and study neuroscience.