The 2021 Celebration of Scholarship and Creativity (CSC), an annual event for students to showcase their research and scholarship to the rest of the Worcester State University community, was launched on Wednesday, April 28. Since 2008, the celebration has been a platform for both undergraduate and graduate students to present their work. Normally an in-person event, the program was modified to a digital format due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year’s poster and oral presentations focused on an assortment of interesting subjects, including a project by Emma Caneira, a graduate student pursuing occupational therapy, who tackled “The Psychological Impact of SARS-CoV-2 on Undergraduate Students.” Caneira’s objective was to both figure out the general mental state of undergraduate students during this tumultuous time, and determine what specific factors from the pandemic seem to generate anxiety in the students. Based on the survey her participants completed, Caneira found a negative correlation between the pandemic and student mental health, particularly in the ways it created more stress and forcibly changed their ways of life.
When asked about what the CSC means to her, Caneira says, “Being able to share my research and results through the online celebration was such a proud accomplishment and it was something I had been looking forward to since I started college at Worcester State. Every research project, including every one of my peers in the Occupational Therapy Department, put their hardest work forth and the final products were amazing.”
Another occupational therapy student, Megan Foley, went in a different direction with her research, presenting her study, “The Effect of Chewing Gum on Memory,” at CSC. Previously it was thought that chewing gum while test taking improved student focus and scores, so it was reasonable to assume that it also improved memory. Foley set out to determine if this was true. Participants in the experimental group (those who received gum) performed generally better on the study’s memory assessment than those in the control group, supporting Foley’s hypothesis. Foley’s findings are relevant for the occupational therapy field, as gum could be potentially used to help those with memory disorders.
“It was incredible,” Foley says about her experience at the CSC. “It meant a lot to carry out an extensive and detailed project that I put a lot of work into and see it in poster format. I just hope that other people will make the connection that chewing gum can have an impact on memory.”
A project by Emma Poplawski and Lacey Nguyen, “Modeling Basketball Free Throws,” offers an example of the diversity of interests in the CSC. In their study, they calculated the arc of a variety of free throws to determine which shot is the most accurate—without touching a basketball. They initially hypothesized that shooting from a 45 degree would be the most accurate, but it was actually from 41 degrees that the ball came the closest to passing through the center of the basket. The inspiration for the study stems from the duo’s mathematical modeling course, where they take real-life problems and apply mathematical modeling to solve them.
“This opportunity allows us to learn more about what students outside of our majors are working on in their classes. Being able to connect with our peers across fields has always been important, but this is even more important now with the global pandemic,” says Poplawski.
To see the full list of projects and presentations shown at the CSC, click here. 
Written by Communications and Marketing Intern Patrick Young ’21