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!
College Writing: A Class Like Any Other?
Berkshire School offers many academic courses, including a variety of electives. One of the choices to earn English credits at Berkshire School is College Writing, available for juniors and seniors. This course is challenging and pushes students to their limits and beyond. Although this class is academically demanding and thought-provoking, the students will benefit from the course in the long run. The reasons student chose this course, what happens during class periods and how the course is prepared every day: these aspects are essential to getting a full idea of College Writing.
There are twelve students in this class, hailing from all over the country and world. Although the reasons for choosing this class fluctuate for each student, a common theme is improving writing skills. Sam Sabin, a senior in this class said, “I signed up for the CW because I wanted to improve my writing arsenal and become a successful writer in college.” This sums up a lot of what the scholars mentioned about the course. Sam Clougher, a post graduate from Ireland, added that, “I signed up for the College Writing Workshop so I could spend a semester simply focusing on improving my writing. I felt I needed a break from studying literature, and College Writing was the best way to do this.”
Moving on from the reasons that Berkshire juniors and seniors selected this class, we can consider what actually happens in the classroom. This class meets four times a week, and in each class period, we start by going over what is planned for the day. We then undertake a short blog entry of a relevant topic to get our brains working and thoughts flowing. The rest of the class period depends on which assignments that we’re working on, amongst other factors. Olivia Mason had this to say about what goes on in College Writing: “We have discovered how to write many different types of assignments, such as expository research papers, group analytical papers, informative power points, and our most common, a reflective daily blog. We also incorporate modern technology to improve our writing skills while also learning about current and historical affairs.” This is basically what goes on in class; you might wonder though how this prepared each student in this class for college.
The name of the class, which might seem self-explanatory, itself attracts attention. This has to incorporate some sort of writing to prepare you for the level of college English assignments. I can attest that this approach has prepared me to write better in college. When I entered this class, I was a decent writer, having good ideas but not able to organize my ideas and formulate them in the way I want them to sound on paper. It was helpful that we have gone over combining sentences and how to structure thesis sentences. Also, practicing different types of writing such as essays, research papers, speeches and other types of writing helped me develop as a writer. My close friend Creedy Acosta agreed, noting that, “I have felt more confident after taking this course. It has allowed me to develop my writing skills to a greater extent. I have even had people, including teachers, read different assignments and mention how my writing has improved.”
College Writing, taught by Dr. Kohlhepp, who himself taught various courses at the university level during his graduate training, is a great course with many benefits. A word of warning: Although this is a great course, if you are not up to challenging yourself every day in Room 212, you might want to pick a different course. This class is chosen by students and taught like no other, preparing each of us for life beyond the semester exam.
-- Nim Farhood '14