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!
This fall marks the beginning of the third year of the SAT program. SAT classes began on September 28th and will continue through April with the goal of preparing students for the May, 2011 SAT. In class, students review content in a structured way and are taught strategies that will allow them to approach the SAT with greater confidence. Students attend class twice weekly during a free period, with one class dedicated to reviewing the math component of the SAT, and the other class focused on the Critical Reading and Writing sections. Each student takes a diagnostic test at the beginning of the course, enabling them and their teachers to evaluate where their strengths and weaknesses lie so that instruction can be targeted to the areas most needing improvement.
Current seniors, who took the course last year, have acknowledged its benefits. “When it came to test time I felt more prepared and better about the test,” said Annie Ahrens '11. All School President Teddy Benfield '11 commented that “the class just helped me realize the importance of the little things…without the SAT prep class I would have been all over the place and I wouldn't have known how to utilize my resources.”
During its first two years, the program has been very successful in helping students to improve their SAT scores and the Director of the SAT Tutorial Program, Maura MacKenzie, is optimistic that this trend will continue. “Last year, 49% of SAT Tutorial participants improved their PSAT to SAT scores by 150 or more points, with three students actually seeing improvements of 370 points! In addition, while the national average improvement from PSAT to SAT is 55 points, Berkshire students’ improvement averaged 128 points. Increasing our instruction time to twice weekly should further support our efforts to help our students.”
The SAT Tutorial Program faculty members are Kate Garbutt, Michael Kalin, Virginia Watkins and Maura MacKenzie.