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!

What We're Doing: Mr. Howard Speaks About the Fall Play
Posted 10/29/2013 08:09AM

We recently sat down with Mr. Howard to learn more about this fall's play, Plans, opening on October 31st. Here's what he had to say:

This fall, the Berkshire School Theater Department has embarked on something new: original work. The play is called Plans and it is based on an original play developed by theater students at my previous school. We took the script of that play and have broken it out for a full-scale reworking process. We are rewriting and restructuring the play because while it was very successful as it was, the material was ripe for redrafting. So we have completely taken it apart... and are now knee-deep in the process of putting it back together. To my delight and surprise, although the main concept is still very much intact, we have pretty much rewritten the entire play.

The play, a modern fable, centers on three neighbors who live like drones in a world of routine, repetition, and habit. Their lives have lost any sense of passion or joy, and they are just going through the motions day in and day out. The play focuses on what happens when, on their 40th birthday, they are paid a visit by their 16 year old selves. How do they answer for themselves? How did they get this way? What happened to the plan? And was the plan flawed to begin with? Plans is a poignant, funny, and penetrating look at the difference between the life we plan and life, itself.

The unique thing about Plans is how it has been developed. Not only are we redrafting a play developed by other high school kids 8 years ago, but instead of sitting and writing the script, all of the material has been generated through structured improvisation. With a firm idea of character, motivation, and the direction of a scene, the actors are then asked to improvise the scene multiple times, through which moments of truth, great lines, and interesting staging ideas are observed and noted. Through this iterative process, each scene is honed into a "script" that is very polished, but is never completely written down. By the time the play opens, the actors will know the material even better than if they'd had started with a script because they created all of it themselves. It is a process that brings out their honest observations about life and their most natural performances.
Link to the student blog here.
Read an article about the student blog here
Berkshire School

245 North Undermountain Road
 |  Sheffield, MA 01257
 |  T: 413 229 8511

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