West’s Researchers Investigators of Tomorrow club, known as RIOT, is a club that revolves around scientific research that is conducted by the students themselves. RIOT members are already hard at work on developing their ideas for independent research projects, many of which will be presented at regional and state science fairs in the spring.
RIOT is an offshoot of the SIRS research class here at West, where students develop a year-long research project that they test in our state-0f-the-art STEM lab. RIOT provides another time in the week that SIRs students can come in and work on their scientific research, which can open new doors for students. It also allows students who can’t fit SIRs into their schedule to participate in their own research and use the lab’s resources. Last year, several students in RIOT went down to the state science fair and won Best in Category awards.
“RIOT Club is a club to support students in conducting their original research at Niles West. We have an incredible STEM lab and we have a lot of incredible equipment. We want the students to do original research or do something unique so they can get a research experience at a high school level,” Patel said.
Many students enrolled in SIRSs are also involved in RIOT because it provides them with resources and time to explore their interests, whether it’s biology, chemistry, or engineering. It’s also great experience for those who want to do research in college.
“So far, RIOT allows me to research a topic of my own and on my own time. The best part is that there is no grading system, so I don’t have to worry about being the best. I can focus on doing the best I can with my research,” junior Muhammad Afzal said.
RIOT doesn’t only support science research, it also sponsors a lot of fun science-related activities. Each year, they carve pumpkins as a festive activity, and this year the RIOT club students built Lego kits that are solar-powered, water-powered, or hydro-electric powered. This club gives students the chance to try out new techniques and explore different areas of science.
“Last year, I tested tissue regeneration, and all the extra time I got from RIOT helped me tremendously. They were always a helpful resource that saved me when I was collecting data like crazy before science fair. I think it’s a good way for kids to observe the world of science research and how it works,” senior Heba Sattar said.
This year, RIOT will sponsor various activities and opportunities for students. One of the most exciting is that graduate students will come in from Northwestern to teach students lab skills and information about scientific research. Every year, RIOT also participates in Chemistry Day at Loyola, where students can participate in hands-on demonstrations, get tours of research labs, and listen to exciting presentations.
Many students are excited to begin researching their own ideas and start their journey of science research. Returning SIRS students help the newer students, and guidance from the sponsors is always available.
“If you have ever done a science project before or like to do a science fair project or are interested in learning about the world of science, RIOT club is the first step to get to know that world. It’s a way to meet other students that have the same interests as you. It’s also a way to meet students who want to do stuff, build stuff, and think about how science can impact the world and how they can contribute,” Patel said.
RIOT is always welcoming new members, so be sure to check it out. Meetings are held on Wednesdays after school in room 3315, the STEM lab.