Advanced Math/Science Research Update
by Dr. April Burch, Director of the AMSR program
January 15, 2013
Since our last update, Berkshire School hosted student researchers from Belmont Hill, and all-boys prep school outside of Boston, for a 1-day mini-symposium on Student Biomedical Research. The goal was to foster collaboration, communication and community outreach with our students. AMSR students Liza Bernstein '13, Sissi Wang '13, Lars Robinson '13, Elsie Guevara '13, Ernest Yue '13, and Nate MacKenzie '14, gave short talks about their work in the new Bellas/Dixon Math and Science lecture hall. The talks were followed up by break-out sessions where Belmont Hill students described their research projects and students discussed commonalities between the projects and future goals.
The second semester of AMSR started with some terrific news. The AMSR program was awarded a grant from The Chinchester Dupont Foundation for the purchase of an EVOS fluorescence microscope. This piece of equipment will expand the types of experiments and analyses that can be done by AMSR students this and future years. The microscope should arrive shortly, and Dr. Burch has invited everyone to stop in for a look next time they are on campus.
One new, exciting project that is underway in the winter season of AMSR in the afternoons is being spearheaded by Elif Kesaf '14. Elif is from Turkey and seeks to identify novel viruses of non-pathogenic strains of Legionella bacterium from travertines in Pamukkale. In collaboration with Dr. Sunny Shin at the Perlman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, she will be working to isolate viruses of this bacterium with the hope of identifying new agents to combat Legionnaires' disease caused by a pathogenic form of Legionella.
Look for more news from Dr. Burch in the next issue!
The students in Dan Spear’s, Nathaniel Blauss’s and Bob Brigham’s physics classes are putting the final touches on their display posters in preparation for the third annual Physics Energy Poster Fair, to be held in the Great Room of Berkshire Hall on Monday night, Jan 31st. Teams of two or three students work together to research a particular energy source, investigating either the technology associated with making the energy available or the current and future uses of the energy source. The students then use the fruits of their research to construct an eye-catching and informative poster to display at the Fair.
The Fair was originally conceived of as a natural outgrowth of Berkshire’s focus on energy use and conservation , and sustainability. As citizens of their towns, our students will eventually be asked to make decisions about how power that they are using should be generated. The Fair is designed to help students go beyond headlines and buzz words, like “No Nukes” and “ Go Green”, to try to understand what is involved, for example, in making electricity at a nuclear-powered facility or what the advantages or limitations might be to expanding the use of wind power or what is involved in constructing a solar electric facility. The Fair then challenges students to be creative in their presentations and prepared to explain and elaborate on their work in one-on-one conversations with their peers and adults.
Some of the students in Nathaniel Blauss’s F period class voiced their thoughts on the Fair and on what they had learned in preparing for it. The team of Caroline Wood, Roya Daemi and Bella Sinsigalli, finalizing the layout of the visuals for their poster, noted that they had learned quite a bit about the applications of geothermal energy. “ I was surprised to find that geothermal energy comprises 8 – 10% of the energy used in some places in the world – I didn’t know it was used so much” said Wood. Added Sinsigalli “ I didn’t realize how deep into the earth you had to go to get geothermal energy, or how expensive it is.” Meanwhile, across the room the geothermal technology group of Corey Wisnowski, Chloe Lerman and Scott McLinden were applying glitter glue to the letters destined to adorn their poster. When asked what they had enjoyed most about the project, the team agreed; “ Putting the poster together”.
In its first two years, the Fair has attracted a large audience of students, faculty and faculty children to tour the displays and ask questions of the posters’ authors. This year, there will be a small addition to the audience; the third formers in the Energy Investigations class will be interviewing some of their peers about their work, as a part of their current unit on aspects of chemical energy .