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!
Pilot Theo Friedman '11
On Monday, Theo Friedman ’11 earned his Private Pilot license at the Great Barrington Airport, the culmination of a journey initiated in the Aviation Science class during his senior year at Berkshire.
Theo was required to demonstrate a range of skills at Monday’s certification test, conducted by a FAA Pilot Examiner. After a two hour knowledge portion in a classroom, Theo and his examiner took to the air for a Practical Test flight, heading north to Greenfield, then southeast to Westfield, where his proficiency was tested on multiple aircraft maneuvers, including steep turns, stalls, and take-off and landings, emergency procedures, navigation, radio communication, and FAA regulations, as well as overall piloting skills and the ability to think under pressure.
To hear Theo talk more about the examination, click here.
Despite the range of skills that Theo was required to demonstrate, he was well prepared for the test. "Doing what Theo did was not easy,” said Michael Lee, Berkshire’s Aviation Science teacher. “He passed two rigorous tests - the FAA Knowledge Test and the Flight Test, and completed some 60 hours for flight training, all within a year while carrying a full study load in other subjects in his senior year at Berkshire and then again in his first semester at Tufts University."
Theo began his work towards acquiring his private pilot’s license when he was a student in the Aviation Science elective at Berkshire. The semester-long class prepares students to pass the FAA Ground School Certification Exam in May, which is an initial requirement for anyone hoping to earn a pilot’s license. The course focuses on the study of aerodynamics, meteorology, navigation, radio communication, and instrumentation as they relate to flying an airplane, and includes quizzes, tests and presentations. But the coursework is not limited to the classroom; each student has between six and ten hours of flight training on Sundays under the tutelage of Chief Flight Instructor Peggy Loeffler at Great Barrington Airport, about five miles from the Berkshire campus.
Click here to learn more the Aviation Science class at Berkshire.
Click here to hear Michael Lee talk about why he loves teaching teenagers to fly.
“The Aviation Science program at Berkshire is an amazing opportunity and it is what ignited the fire for flying for me,” said Theo. “The class is challenging and demanding, but not overwhelming. The best thing about it is that you are doing all this work for something tangible, not just a letter on a report card. This was a huge motivating factor for me. Honestly, I didn’t see it as work - I saw it as a challenge to see if I could pass the FAA Ground School test. Once a week we went to the Great Barrington Airport for a couple of hours of experience in a plane. That was my favorite part. It was definitely my favorite class during my senior year! This program is an absolutely incredible opportunity and it changes your life. “
Though he doesn’t know exactly what he will do with the license now, he is effusive about the sense of accomplishment and pride that comes from piloting an aircraft. “Spending time in a plane totally changes how you view yourself – you’re flying a plane, that’s one of the coolest things you can do, and the confidence that you have translates into every single aspect of your life. You feel more confident in the classroom, with your friends, in any situation – if you can fly a plane, you can handle anything.”