Maggie Maselli ’24
Many students weigh how to balance their contrasting interests, whether they be STEM, the arts, or the humanities. Maggie Maselli ’24, however, has found the key to combining all of these seemingly different disciplines.

Growing up, Maselli was exposed to the sciences thanks to her parents, who had studied physics and chemistry in college. While her love for the sciences developed, she also discovered another passion: dance.

Upon arrival at Hamilton, Maselli was sure she was going to major in physics and pursue a career in physics and science education. In fact, once she took Introduction to Physics, she was hooked.

Yet, Maselli was not ready to give up dancing, which she had done since she was 2-years-old, and began to enroll in Hamilton dance classes, too. Seeing dance as a creative outlet from physics, she joined Hamilton’s dance team, the Student Dance Alliance, and has performed in dance productions on campus. Off the Hill, Maselli has also danced in the Syracuse City Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker.

Maggie Maselli ’24 performs during the 2023 Spring Dance Concert.
Maggie Maselli ’24 performs during the 2023 Spring Dance Concert. Photo: Nancy L. Ford

By taking advantage of Hamilton’s open curriculum, Maselli was able to simultaneously explore both her interests in dance and physics, even finding connections between the two. “Sometimes I’ll be doing a move and realize ‘this correlates with this physics concept I learned in class,” Maselli said. “It’s kind of funny the weird places I find overlap.”

When it came time for Maselli to complete her senior thesis for physics, she and her thesis supervisor Professor Gordon Jones created an interactive physics lab for students at Clinton High School. The lab investigated the principles of pressure, area, and force through the creation of hovercrafts. Students built the hovercrafts using Styrofoam meat trays to which they attached a drone fan and a battery. By doing so, they examined which part of the tray had the greater likelihood of staying afloat.

Her idea came from a class Maselli taught previously at the EXPLO Summer Camp in Norwood, Mass., called “Hovercraft Physics.” In addition, she wanted to incorporate teaching into her thesis project, and thus the idea of working with local high school students was born.

To develop the lab, Maselli went to the school a few times a week over the course of several weeks to observe the class and get to know the students before running the classroom for 10 days. She collaborated with a teacher at Clinton High to create an engaging yet simple experiment for the students to complete while still learning key physics concepts.

After graduation, Maselli hopes to pursue a career in education and possibly teach high school physics. However, she is not ready to let go of dance and hopes to maintain her connection to ballet by auditioning for local productions and possibly becoming a dance instructor.

“Whether I knew it or not [teaching] was a big part of my life. I really enjoy working with kids, and teaching and physics are both big passions of mine,” Maselli said.


Exploring the Open Curriculum

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