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!
Green Mountain Squash Summer Camp was a month-long, free summer camp for middle school students in Arlington, a small, rural town in Southern Vermont. The camp used a two-pronged approach to engage children in both a new sport and a design-thinking learning method. Daily, we had two groups which split up to play squash for a little over an hour and then work on their projects the other half of the morning.
Students, while off-court, cultivated entrepreneurial skills as they designed a business or program they wished to see in their hometown, using a design-thinking method (gleaned from Addie's semester in South Africa). First, they met with local business owners, foundations, and experts that included a historian and the town's State Representative, in order to better understand the community. Then, as part of their research, students toured local businesses and historic sites including a 1700s mill on the Battenkill River, Norman Rockwell’s homes, and older buildings (an 1800s tavern, garage, and movie theater) which now have alternative uses. Additionally, there were two field trips where the students visited colleges, art museums, and a squash camp at Williams College. The last week of camp, the students delivered to a panel of business owners and community members the businesses and non-profit organizations they had designed for the town.
Meanwhile, on the squash courts, which a local company (owned by a Berkshire grad) kindly donated to the camp, the students learned the basics of squash. They are now complete squash converts! Our focus was not only on the skills of the game but on how to work through frustration and how effort leads to success. The camp was so successful that we are not only looking to do the camp again next year but to additionally run a year-round academic and squash afterschool program. Thank you to the Berkshire students and teachers who donated racquets for the kids to use, and a huge thank you to Anna Driscoll '13 who designed all of marketing materials and logo.