Torrey Pines science journal Falconium thrives

The fall cover of the Falconium
The fall cover of the Falconium
photo
Alice Fang, the president and founder of Torrey Pines High School's Falconium science journal, at a booth. Photo: Courtesy

By Karen Billing

Staff Writer

As Alice Fang, the president and founder of Torrey Pines High School's Falconium science journal, puts it, there are three groups of people when it comes to science: Those who find it torture, those who passively participate and those who "like it unreservedly as if with salivating neurons."

Alice's Falconium journal is ready to launch into a new year of giving science a cooler reputation on campus, getting the passive to be interested, and giving the passionate an outlet to experiment and expound.

"Falconium aims to bridge the gap between high-end journals aimed solely at professionals and magazines intended for younger children," Alice said. "In Falconium, students with a passion for science write articles about scientific phenomena and other topics in a way that is engaging to their peers. Falconium is also a niche for student-done research to be published. Meanwhile, readers who may not be as interested in science can read the journal and gain valuable insights from their peers.

"Falconium also directly deals with stereotypes and definitions of science," she added. "A recent issue we published focuses specifically on student perspectives of science."

For the quarterly journal, students do all the research, writing, art, editing and layout on their own time—they do not get school credit.

"That's really remarkable," said Alice of the students' willingness to contribute. "Everyone is really enthusiastic about what we do. The goal is to share our love of science with other students."

Alice, now a senior, founded the journal her sophomore year at Torrey Pines, putting science teacher Brinn Belyea's idea in motion.

"She's one of our top students," said Belyea of Alice. "It's because of her energy and leadership that this club has been so successful."

It was challenging at first, trying to find a print shop who would work with them. Alice said many would not. Fortunately, The UPS Store in Del Mar Highlands agreed to give them a large discount on printing and they received grants from companies such as Life Technologies and Gen-Probe.

There are currently more than 50 students involved in the journal and, in one-and-a-half years, more than 250 articles, graphics, and blogs have been published, Alice said.

Recently, Falconium staff members participated in the San Diego Science Festival and the "A World We Can Change" conference/ expo, according to Alice.

"Falconium staff members manned the booth and shared their love for science with children, teenagers, and adults of all ages," she said.

Falconium is also the grand prize winner of the 2010 national Young Professionals in Publishing competition.

"We've gotten extremely far in these last two years," said senior contributor Siddhartho Bhattacharya.

Past issues have covered genetically modified organisms, MSG, violin sound analysis, the physics of break dancing and parasitic worms. The articles are accompanied by student graphics and illustrations, and every issue is published with a supplementary teacher's guide to prompt classroom discussions of their work.

For his articles, Siddhartho has written about astrophysics, fractals and 4-D microscopy and is planning to write this year about his internship at UC San Diego's biomedical science lab.

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