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!
An "A" for Helping Others
by Mohibullah Amin '12
Most midterm exams involve sitting down for an hour or two, answering questions meant to test how much one has learned over the semester. Students in the Sustainable Resource Management elective were tasked with a somewhat different approach; lead an initiative that would strengthen community. The students took a variety of angles on the assignment, collecting food for a local food pantry, gathering campus litter, cleaning dorm basements, donating money to help children in Africa, and raising awareness about sexual equality.
Through creating a donation page and tapping contacts, Allie Bliven ’13, Miko Gracia ’13, Joe Pezza ’14 and Henry Corcoran ’14 were able to raise $4,120 for Invisible Children. The Dean of Academics, Mr. Splawn, said, "Expanding our students' perception of the global community -- and demonstrating that, working together, even students in a small community of learners in Sheffield, MA can make a difference -- is a big part of what education is all about." Invisible Children’s main goal is to end the use of child soldiers in the current African conflict and restore peace and prosperity.
For over 20 years, the Pittsfield food pantry has been providing food to needy families. Elias Kruase '12 and Jackie Pape '14 collected 508 pounds of food for the organization. The two students collected 121 pounds of grains, 168 pounds of vegetables, 65 pounds of fruits, 110 pounds of meat and fish, and 44 pounds of other products.
Cody Turner ’13 gathered litter around Berkshire campus. After five hours of work, he collected almost fifty pounds of trash, mostly from the surrounding forest. Cody said, “The Berkshire maintenance staff does an incredible job keeping our campus clean. It was enlightening to see how much garbage still makes its way into the surrounding forest.”
Akash Bharwani ’12 and Kimberly Henry ’13 cleaned and organized the basement of Stanley Dorm. Items that were salvageable and were in respectable condition were donated to local organizations. Of the 188.6 pounds of items cleared out of the Stanley basement, 118.6 pounds were salvageable, 33 pounds were trash, and 37 pounds were cardboard.
Not having a heterosexual orientation can be a difficult situation in high school. To spread awareness, Brandon Allen ’13 worked with the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) and placed Safe Space Stickers around the school. Brandon covered 60.8% of the buildings.
Students in the class are learning that creating a sustainable community isn’t solely about reducing environmental impacts. Communities also have the responsibility to create an atmosphere that promotes social equity: one that encourages people to help each another.