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!
Quiz Bowl Club at MIT
On Saturday, February 25th, four members of Berkshire's Academic Quiz Bowl team travelled to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the MITBAT--the MIT Beaver Academic Tournament. In its first-ever tournament, the Berkshire team finished very well, winning five of ten head-to-head matches, and coming in second among prep schools, behind Phillips Exeter Academy.
Since quiz bowl is a new activity at Berkshire, perhaps a little explanation is in order. Around the country, high school and collegiate teams compete against one another in periodic tournaments that test participants' knowledge over the entire spectrum of a rigorous high school curriculum. Questions also include a certain amount of pop culture and current events. Each tournament features a blend of individual competition and team collaboration, according to nationally standardized rules, since no individual player is likely to be an expert in all subject areas. In fact, members of each four-person squad learn highly particular and esoteric areas of knowledge: one player may specialize in biochemistry, astronomy, and particle physics; another may study US presidential history, European conflicts, and sub-Saharan African politics; still another might focus on Romantic poetry, East Asian theologies, and indie rock. Thus, quiz bowl can reinforce classroom lessons and also encourage players to go beyond their assignments to master other forms of knowledge as well.
Berkshire's first traveling team consisted of captain Eliza Farley '13, Unyimeabase Udoh '13, Sam Cabot '13, and Will McGovern '14. In a dazzlingly fast and far-ranging display of their impressive skills, the team provided correct answers such as "structural stereoisomerism," "The War of the Spanish Succession," "Shinto," "Ansel Adams," "Bashar Al-Assad," and "Coldplay" (tournament rules forbid us from releasing the copyrighted questions). In ten rounds, they earned more than 1,000 points, at ten points a question. Any Berkshire teacher or parent would have been entirely impressed.
This is the just the beginning for Berkshire quiz bowl. We intend to organize more teams for on campus and even traveling competitions, and with nearby sister institutions such as Suffield Academy, Emma Willard School, and Williston-Northampton also starting to field squads, it seems as though Quiz Bowl will soon become a popular way for many of our students to strut their intellectual stuff!
-- Evan Clary, English Department Chair and Quiz Bowl Club faculty mentor