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!
AP U.S. Government: Mock Trial
Students in Jason Gappa's Advanced Placement U.S. Government classes put their study of U.S. Supreme Court procedures to practice yesterday in a mock trial.
Mr. Gappa describes the exercise below:
"The purpose of this project was to give the students a better understanding of US Supreme Court procedure. I assigned my three classes the case Fisher v. University of Texas, which was argued this past fall and deals with affirmative action admissions policy of the University of Texas Austin. The students were originally divided up into either lawyers or judges. Each judge was assigned a member of the present Supreme Court. Those students had to research that judge's background and to determine his or her judicial philosophy. Based on that philosophy, they had to develop at least two questions for the lawyers who would argue the case. The lawyers had to write a brief for the case and prepare for an oral argument in front of the court. Each side had five minutes to make their case and then they were subjected to questions by the justices. In all three classes, the justices did not hold back on the lawyers and peppered them with tough questions. Overall, the students did a fine job staying in role and discussing the relevant precedent and the facts of the case. Some great individual performances included, but were not limited to, Josh Ibanez as Justice Roberts, Lou Scaglione as Justice Scalia, Lars Robinson as Justice Roberts, Jake Grant as Justice Breyer, Eliza Farley arguing for Fisher, and Maddy Maher arguing for Fisher. After the oral arguments, the judges had their conference where each judge gave his or her explanation for their vote. The results were as follows: E Period decided 5-3 in favor of Fisher, G Period decided 5-0 in favor of Fisher, and A Period decided 6-1 in favor of the University of Texas. The actual Supreme Court will render their decision on this case sometime this spring, so we look forward to comparing our results with the Court's and reading the Opinion of the Court."