Given an opportunity to choose, Gabe Dahari ’25 would pick Edgar Allen Poe over Physics.
But next week, the 11th grader will pair his passion for the humanities with science after he was selected as one of eight finalists in the Science Story Slam, a new contest created by two MIT professors for the upcoming Cambridge Science Festival.
The contest, known as 3S, requires high school students to share a story, fiction or nonfiction, about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).
“The route I went is a gripping retelling of a historical, scientific discovery. I felt like I could make it poetic,” says Dahari, who penned a short story on Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen. Röntgen’s discovery of the X-ray in 1895 earned him the inaugural Nobel Prize in Physics.
“Most people don’t know the details of the discovery. I wanted to highlight the story and add, sort of, an evil twist to it to make it a little more engaging for the audience,” says Dahari.
Dahari will present his fictional tale to a live audience at the Cambridge Public Library on September 27. He was inspired for the project by reading Edgar Allen Poe’s classic short story, "The Tell-Tale Heart."
“I love Poe,” Dahari says. “I’ve read him a lot in English class.”
In preparation for the event, Dahari has worked with a vocal coach from MIT on his presentation of his characters, which he said involves getting the different voices "just right." He also credits his dad, a science teacher, for encouraging him to apply.
The contest’s grand prize is $1,000. Judges for the event include New York Times reporter Kate Zernike and author Paul Tremblay.