When talking with Anika Patel, it’s hard to believe she is only a high school student.
The articulate ninth grader from Dulles High School has found a scientific approach to helping Hurricane Harvey victims, and is planning a fairly large community event – on her own – to help. She’s also come up with a unique theme for the event: Family Science Night, which is all about getting people together to learn more about science for one fun evening. Ticket purchases benefit Hurricane Harvey victims in Fort Bend County.
Active in the community herself, Patel finds a source of organized support in area science groups.
“Anika’s concern for Hurricane Harvey victims is commendable but her actions to help are extraordinary,” said Teri Mathis, a fellow Fort Bend Photography Club member who is helping Patel support the event.
She noted that Patel has not only taken on the sizable community event by herself, but also initiated presentations and invitations for other science organizations throughout the area to participate.
The multi science presentation called Family Science Night will be at Dulles High School Friday, Dec. 1, from 6-8 p.m. Tickets are $10 per person and all proceeds will be donated to the Fort Bend Forward Harvey Recovery Fund.
“She’s an achiever, and very engaged in the community,” Mathis said. “And it’s great that she thought this event up by herself.”
Patel is a student of the Math and Science Academy at Dulles High School. The busy ninth grader also volunteers at a stroke support group, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, and at the George Observatory for the Fort Bend Astronomy Club.
It’s safe to say science is a big interest in Patel’s life. So is volunteering and coming up with the idea for Family Science Night.
“It’s something I started this year to benefit Hurricane Harvey victims,” Patel said. “I thought it would be a good idea to involve science and raise interest and then more people would be involved.”
“I came up with the idea after school re-started after the hurricane. And I started hearing stories on how people were affected. My home hadn’t been damaged; I just wanted to help other people,” she said.
Many local science clubs have joined in Patel’s fun evening of science. Clubs such as the Fort Bend Astronomy Club, Houston Museum of Natural Science Downtown and the Houston Gems and Minerals Society. Activities at Family Science Night include telescope viewing, updates on NASA missions, an inflatable dome planetarium, basics of digital photography and more. There will also be telescopes outside where people can look at the night sky.”
Patel approached each of the participating groups first via email, and then presented the idea to each group, so that they could take a look at her project idea in action.
All of the planning took about six to eight hours a week. That’s in addition to schoolwork and her other extra curricular activities.
She presented the idea of Family Science Night to Brian Tucker, the Academy Coordinator for the Math and Science Academy at Dulles High School. Tucker said yes, and offered guidance throughout the planning stage, but Patel took on the job as coordinator for Family Science Night by herself.
“She contacted everybody who is on the program personally. She has worked so hard on this and basically did everything on her own. I offered only guidance. I am so proud of her initiative and hard work,” he said.
At Family Science Night, look for scientist Don Cooper, who helped with the Apollo 11 mission. The Fort Bend Astronomy Club will host a topic on gravity and the laws of motion. Fort Bend Photography Club will be on hand for tips on creative and wildlife photography. There will be a discussion on paleontology, and getting your very own fossilized shark’s teeth from the Houston Gems and Mineral Society. There’s also an inflatable planetarium right outside the cafeteria from the Houston Museum of Natural Science, along with presentations on various science topics.
Science seems to be in Patel’s future goals, but not a specific area yet.
“I’m not really sure. I just want a career that’s in science,” she said.
Her favorite class is biology. Her brother is a student at MIT, so science seems to run in the family.
When she’s not in school, or busy organizing community events, she 6.0 GPA student studies a lot, plays the viola, and enjoys reading, drawing and photography.
Financial donations will be made to the Fort Bend Forward Harvey Recovery Fund and then sent directly to families affected by the flood. Tickets are available at the door of Dulles High School.