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!
Global citizenship is not just a buzzword these days, but rather a key building block in the modern curriculum. It has become essential to help students develop an awareness of the ever-shrinking world and how to compete in the global market while always being mindful of their global interconnectedness and social responsibility.
Recently, Berkshire invited Carl Hobert, the founder of Axis of Hope, to perform a seven hour workshop with Berkshire students. This day continued work that began over the summer when each student read Tracy Kidder’s Strength in What Remains, which detailed Deogratias “Deo” Niyizonkiza's survival of the Burundian genocide.
Axis of Hope works with youth in their formative years to impart lifelong social and civic skills including case study analyses as well as the management and prevention of global and ethnic conflict. Berkshire students had the opportunity to participate in exercises such as role-playing geo-political situations, designed to awaken their moral reasoning and empathy.
The students from Mr. Bowler’s Modern Middle Eastern Politics class used this day to work on their dialogue skill set to understand the difficulties behind settling difficult postwar conflicts. These complex issues will be rehashed when the class looks at the current Israel/Palestine conflict after Spring Break. In particular, this issue will go hand-in-hand with studying the Palestinian claim for “the Right to Return” and the Israeli government’s claims to ownership. His Modern World History section used the day to continue its study of Africa and the problems that remain due to the European colonization of the continent. Through their study of international conflict, students learned valuable negotiation skills and ultimately the concepts of conflict resolution and preventive diplomacy.
For this particular workshop, students studied the post-genocide situation in Rwanda. In preparation, students reviewed the history, chronology, geography, current events and terminology of the region. Then they were divided into six different groups – each representing one person’s perspective and passionate opinion about what to do with a plot of land that a former Tutsi owned before she became too sick to farm it. Next, students entered several rounds of negotiations in which they represented their side with as much understanding and authenticity as possible. Through each round of negotiations, the participants worked together on trying to come up with an overall plan for the future of this land and learned just how complex fixing a country that has experienced genocide can be. At the end of the day, the students had a far greater understanding of this terrible situation.
Watch a short video of the day here: