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!
On a winter night in 1987, I sat on my couch in my living room in front of a nice fire in the beautiful stone fireplace of Birchglade on the Berkshire School campus. On either side of me were my sons, Brian ’97 and Danny ’99, and surrounding them were members of the Bears’ softball team. We were waiting for the first ever question to be asked over WBSL as part of the inaugural Trivia Night. To pass the time, we were reading a Golden Book version of Winnie the Pooh. The first question, asked by former faculty member Mark Livsey, was, “Can you name seven characters from a Winnie the Pooh story?” We were first on the first question ever asked, but alas, we finished last in the contest that night.
Because we took two years off, 2013 marks the 26th Trivia Night under the mountain. I have helped run the show from the radio station 24 times, and it is an amazing experience. Think of our respected, calm, and intellectual former Senior Master, C. Twiggs Myers, running into WBSL like a maniac to protest an answer. He was hyped up! The kids who take part have a great time. It works like this. Sixty regular Trivia Night questions are asked over the air and the team who calls in the answer first gets the most points. Every team who answers correctly receives points, but it is most definitely a race. While this is happening, there is a “Pathfinder” competition. A series of poems that act as clues to locations on campus get the kids running all over the place, for it is also a race. The team who completes the path first scores big points. Actually, I am proud of the fact that my track team-running son, Danny, won the Pathfinder all four years he attended Berkshire. This is only the beginning! The first four seconds of 30 songs, carefully chosen by Music Directors Drs. Davis and Wu, are played and points are garnered by identifying the artist and the title of the song. Those with the smarts to record the music do very well. The kids are also challenged with a scavenger hunt of find 100 articles of four different things. We have asked for 100 1943 pennies, 100 pairs of pink socks, or, for 25 points each, four cheeseburgers served hot to the radio station with ketchup. There is a cosmic riddle of epic difficulty, composed by History teacher R.G. Meade, and the teams also have to sing the words of a TV theme song in costume to help their respective teams. Tiffany Mooney and Deb Gulotta run the show from the radio station with student DJs. This year’s DJs are Hattie Waldron and Maddie Bricken.
Over the years I have had some favorite teams. Mr. Barros and Mr. Morley, a former Spanish teacher at Berkshire, actually played from somewhere on the mountain with a group of students who were camping out. The theater kids played from back stage of the Berkshire production of Kiss Me Kate while the show was in progress at Mt. Everett Regional High School. Every year, Mrs. Maher runs a faculty kid team that is awesome, and “Chicks with Sticks,” featuring members of our girl’s hockey team, has won the contest three times. Hey, if you want to have a great time, tune into WBSL at 7:00 PM this Saturday, January 19, and get ready for the first question to be asked sharply at 7:30pm. (WBSL streams live, too. Click here to listen) I am so grateful to Mark Livsey for starting this great evening so many years ago.
Click here to read the official rules.
-- Bill Gulotta, History teacher