Written by Lauren Horn, project imple­men­ta­tion coor­di­nator in the Center for STEM Education.

The 66th annual Boston Public Schools Sci­ence Fair drew more than 250 middle– and high-​​school stu­dents to North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, where the bright young sci­en­tists pre­sented their research on elec­trolytes, paint­ball bal­lis­tics and breast cancer cells to both sci­ence and engi­neering professionals.

The event, held in the Cabot Center last Sat­urday, was hosted by Northeastern’s Center for STEM (sci­ence, tech­nology, engi­neering and math­e­matics) Education.

Both Mass­a­chu­setts Sec­re­tary of Edu­ca­tion Paul Reville and Boston Public Schools Super­in­ten­dent Carol Johnson addressed the stu­dents, who found inspi­ra­tion in unex­pected places.

My two team­mates and I were in the gym and noticed we all have dif­ferent hand posi­tions when we shoot bas­ket­balls,” said Johan Guer­rero, a sixth-​​grader at the Curley K-​​8 School in Jamaica Plain. “We were won­dering whether it was more accu­rate to shoot from chest level, chin level or over the head.”

Guer­rero and two of his class­mates — Jeddie Nyei and Mohammad Umair — devised an exper­i­ment to test their hypoth­esis that shooting a bas­ket­ball from above your head would lead to more hoops. They were right. “I think it’s more accu­rate because it’s closer to the rim above,” Nyei explained.

Nearly half of the judges were North­eastern fac­ulty, staff or alumni.

Judge Sheldon Wilson, a grad­uate stu­dent in finance in the Col­lege of Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion, praised the sci­ence fair. “It was fun seeing the Curley stu­dents present their projects,” he said, adding that he reg­u­larly tutors Curley stu­dents “because at their age I had this kind of men­tor­ship and it greatly ben­e­fited me.”

Hayden Codiga, a sixth-​​grader at the Curley school, won the sci­ence fair’s third prize for middle school stu­dents for his project on sur­face ten­sion, which he first explored during Northeastern’s 2011 Exxon­Mobil Bernard Harris Summer Sci­ence Camp. The free, two-​​week pro­gram — run by the Center for STEM Edu­ca­tion — gives stu­dents the chance to work along­side North­eastern fac­ulty, staff and stu­dents on projects aimed at increasing their knowl­edge of sci­ence, tech­nology, engi­neering and math.

Nafisa Wara, a ninth-​​grader at Boston Latin School, won the top prize for high-​​school stu­dents for her project enti­tled, “Effect of Bio­log­ical Com­pounds on the Con­trac­tion of Glyc­eri­nated Muscle Tis­sues.” Nathan Han, a sev­enth grader at Boston Latin School, won the middle-​​school Christa McAu­liffe Prize for his project enti­tled “A Study of Cor­re­la­tion between Human Skin Recep­tive Field and Age.”