Student Research Featured at Benedictine College

  • Friday, April 19, 2013

In a packed room in Benedictine College’s new Ferrell Academic Center, Bridget Fowler excitedly talked about a personal hovercraft she and teammates Graham Matlock and Joe Wilhelm had built themselves.  The three students were demonstrating the results of months of research and experimentation they had done outside of their regular classes.  They were part of the “Hovering Around” Project.  It was Discovery Day.


Benedictine College’s 18th annual Discovery Day drew attention to a wealth of independent student research.  The college’s signature academic event is a daylong demonstration of student/faculty collaboration on extra-curricular research projects.  This year’s Discovery Day included 63 presentations featuring the work of 143 students, 37 faculty/staff members, and 19 academic departments.  All classes and meetings were cancelled on April 17 to allow the student body and faculty to attend.


“Working on a Discovery Project is a great opportunity to do my own research in a field I love, but still have the guidance of the teacher,” said Fowler, a freshman engineering major.


More than 2000 students have participated in Discovery Day events since its inception in 1996.  In that time, most faculty members and academic departments have taken an active role in sponsoring students with their projects.  Each year, this day of academic discussion also features a keynote address.  This year’s Discovery Keynote featured the Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica Monastery.  The prioress, Sister Anne Shepard, along with Sisters Thomasita Homan, Mary Irene Nowell, and Linda Herndon, gave a presentation that covered their history during their sesquicentennial celebration.  Their presentation, titled Because She Loved More: The Story of the Followers of St. Scholastica in Atchison, Kansas, even included a “flash mob” in O’Malley-McAllister Auditorium as planted singers performed Gaudeamus Hodie, which translates to “rejoice today!”

Sister Anne spoke of the first sisters who came to Kansas in 1863 in the midst of the Civil War.


“The sisters sacrificed everything they had to live as Benedictine cloisters did in Germany and to begin education for young women and children here in Atchison,” she said.  “They were pilgrims, they were poor, and they relied on the Divine Providence of God.”

During her portion of the presentation, Sister Thomasita offered a demonstration of the impact the Mount still has today on the campus.  She asked people to stand who lived in St. Scholastica Hall, Kremmeter Hall or Schermer House.  She asked anyone to stand who had ever been to the Mount and shared a meal.  She asked the Mount Prayer Partners to stand.  She also asked anyone to stand who had ever had one of the sisters as a teacher, either in grade school, high school or at Benedictine College.  Ultimately, most of the room was standing.


“It is you, the people on this campus, who show the strongest link to Mount St. Scholastica,” she said.


In closing, Sister Anne offered their thoughts for the students in attendance, saying, “Our hope is that every day our loving God finds us with our eyes open to him and to the people of God and we really hope and pray that that lives on in each of you.”


In addition to the keynote speech, the day included project presentations with titles like: The Science of Sound: Speakers; Philosophy, Math and Zeno’s Paradox; Engineering a Concrete Canoe; Language Charged with Grandeur: the Poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins; The Spread of Bacteria in Health Care & Sports Facilities; The Evolution of Mission Work; Video Games and Their Effects on College Student Learning; The Mathematics of Shoe Lacing; andLaser Art Sculpture.


For a more detailed listing of the many presentation subjects, please visit the Benedictine College website at