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!
Physics: Energy Poster Fair
For the fourth year, physics students particpated in the Energy Poster Fair recently. Working in groups of three, students studied a specific energy source and prepared a poster board with detailed information. The goals of the project were:
- To learn about the technology, advantages, disadvantages and costs associated
with energy forms currently used and postulated for future use.
- To determine current applications of energy sources and to propose new ones.
- To learn to use current research resources (web sites, journals, newspapers).
- To learn to evaluate the bias, if any, in current research resources.
- To prepare a carefully planned and executed visual presentation of the findings.
- To present the findings for an audience of peers and invited guests.
In order to complete these goals, the students worked with their group to research their designated energy source to find answers to such questions as:
- Where is the energy source found, and how is it prepared?
- What is the primary advantage of the resource as an energy source?
- In relative terms to other energy resources, how expensive is the resource?
- For what current application or applications is the resource best suited?
- How dangerous is the resource, and does it pose a threat if generated in a heavily populated area?
In the past, students have been very creative in making the poster boards. For example, a group that researched Solar Energy used tin foil to create a poster board that resembled a solar panel, and then they laid the information on top. This year, a few groups chose to utilize personal computer projectors that have become common among students. In this way, they can eliminate the waste that would be created using a traditional cardboard poster board, and instead they can project the information onto a wall. I felt that this was a great idea and is in agreement with Berkshire School’s general commitment to sustainability. Well done, physics students!
-- Dan Spear, Science teacher