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!

Independent Study
Posted 10/30/2010 01:00AM

The Independent Study Program at Berkshire allows students to pursue an academic interest that extends beyond the core courses and the dozens of electives offered in the regular curriculum. Working with a faculty mentor, a student designs a course and directs its in-depth development in either a one-semester or yearlong study. Independent Studies may combine academic work on campus with shadowing area professionals or volunteer internships at local organizations.

So far this year, seventeen students are undertaking an Independent Study, and one student is engaged in two different independent courses. Having presented their written proposals to a panel of faculty members for approval, students now meet with their mentors each week, sometimes more than once, depending on the course. Assessment varies by topic: most students read extensively and write essays or critiques in addition to leading discussions with their mentors on their progress. Others demonstrate through projects or compositions that they are progressing in the syllabus they created.

Primarily available to Fifth and Sixth Form students, the program is flexible if a strong proposal comes from an under-former. An Independent Study may be taken as a fifth course, to earn a letter grade, or as an additional course, either graded or pass/fail.

What inspires a student to study independently? For some, it’s a chance to explore an additional AP subject: Andrew Walther and Tim Kou in AP Economics, and Seyoon Lee in AP Physics Electricity and Magnetism. Others are extending their work in previous classes: Eric Zahn’s experience in Sustainability inspires him to examine how Berkshire can operate buildings under LEED guidelines; Anne-Marie Dion, Stéphanie Quintin, and Chloe Lerman are continuing language studies beyond the AP language level. Long Tran (Advanced Latin II) and Kevin Chung (Linear Algebra) are also in advanced courses unavailable within the standard curriculum. Special projects at an advanced level include digital music studies by Scot McMillan (composition in various formats) and Luke Johnson (composition and DJ-ing), focus on photographic portraiture by Theo Friedman, and history projects about the Holocaust by Emily Bernstein and the effect of media on politics by Joseph Levine. Martha Hagerty is learning the equivalent of two years of Swedish language in order to connect with her family’s heritage. Motivated by his experience in his family’s business in Spain, Jorge Bordas is exploring business and the stock market in the U.S..  Joseph Lin builds on his previous college-level work in computer creation by studying Advanced Macromedia Flash. Kevin Chung’s second Independent Study involves both music composition and setting up a recording studio in Berkshire’s new Music Center.

If past experience is an indicator, these ambitious students will be joined by half a dozen others seeking independent work for second semester. Their proposals will be reviewed in January. Then in May, the Berkshire community will celebrate their work, through displays and presentations, on Independent Study Night.

In the meantime, over the course of the year, each student's independent study will be profiled here on the web.

Eric Zahn ’11
LEED Building Operation
Faculty advisor: Frank Barros

Andrew Walther ’11
Yingmang Kou ’13

AP Micro & Macroeconomics
Faculty advisor: Jasper Turner

Long Tran ’11
Advanced Latin II
Faculty advisor: Norm Merrill

Stéphanie Quintin ’11
Anne-Marie Dion ’1
1
19th Century French Literature
Faculty advisor: Jean-Erick Joassaint

Scot McMillan ’11
Luke Johnson ’11

Advanced Digital Music
Faculty advisor: Clive Davis

Joseph Lin ’11
Advanced Macromedia Flash
Faculty advisor: Jasper Turner

Joseph Levine ’11
Modern Media and Politics
Faculty advisor: Jason Gappa

Chloe Lerman ’11
Advanced Spanish Literature: Márquez
Faculty advisor: Carlos Berrendero

Seyoon Lee ’12
AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism
Faculty advisor: Kurt Schleunes

Martha Hagerty ’11
Swedish Language
Faculty advisor: Martina Moodey

Theo Friedman ’11
Advanced Photography: Portraiture
Faculty advisor: Paul Banevicius

Kevin Chung ’11
Linear Algebra
Faculty advisor: Kurt Schleunes

Advanced Music Composition and Sound Recording
Faculty advisor: Clive Davis

Jorge Bordas ’11
Business and Stock Market
Faculty advisor: John Alden

Emily Bernstein ’11
Holocaust Survivors
Faculty advisor: Bill Gulotta

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