Parul Pubbi looks in the mirror in the morning and sees science.
“If you get up in the morning, splash water on your face, and then put on makeup, that’s two minutes of your day, but already you’ve used science,” said the high school sophomore.
Leave it to a teenage girl to think of makeup as science. But Pubbi’s curiosities are not frivolous — she wants to learn about the chemicals in her foundation and eye shadow and understand how they affect her skin. As Pubbi researches these questions, she’ll be able to do more than write up a school report. At Torrey Pines High, she can conduct a study and try to get it published in a scientific journal.
The school publishes Falconium, one of the first scientific research journals for public high school students. Its faculty advisor, chemistry teacher Brinn Belyea, said there are a few other high school science journals in the country (including the National High School Journal of Science, a bi-annual journal that publishes student work), but he believes Falconium is the first at an individual public school.
In its third year, Falconium has more than 90 student writers and editors on its staff and an advisory board of 15 professional scientists who review its studies. The student staff at Falconium — named after Torrey Pines’s mascot with an elemental-sounding “ium” added to the end — runs their own website, publishes 1,000 copies of each issue and receives submissions from students in other states and Mexico.