Science Research and Design
The goal of this course is for students to experience scientific research as scientists do. It is challenging because there is no right answer — teachers guide and brainstorm with students as facilitators, but students quickly head into uncharted waters and learn how to guide themselves. Most of the work is done outside of class — students learn how to pace themselves and work efficiently to continue to produce results.
Along the way, students will learn read and analyze scientific articles, design an experiment, ask good experimental questions, operationalize variables, gather data, analyze results and draw conclusions. They will also deliver presentations on their research and eventually either look for external mentors with whom they can develop their own research ideas into original scientific projects or design and carry out their own in-house, independent research. The results of this work are published in Berkeley Carroll's science journal at the end of the students' senior year.
Read a Wall Street Journal article on one of our students using Crispr gene-editing technology for his SRD project.
One of my favorite parts of science research is the lab meeting. It's a chance for the scientists in a lab to sit at a table and show each other what they've got — when you float your half-baked hypothesis or ask if your new data graph looks more like a straight line or a sine curve.
At a good lab meeting, thoughts are free flowing but not yet crystalized, and feedback is probing, thoughtful and constructive — people listen to each other and interrupt each other all at the same time.
In the 2014-15 academic year, the Berkeley Carroll Science Research and Design Program took a step toward establishing our own tradition of the lab meeting. We've done so by making the 11th grade class (the middle year of this three-year program) a full-graded course — a chance to meet six times a cycle with the same young scientists over the course of a year.
When you spend as much time together as these students do, you can't help but know what your fellow researchers are up to; they have countless chances to review one another's work, serve as subjects in each other's experiments and offer up suggestions.
Upper School Science Chair
In this three-year sequence, students effectively write their own essential questions as they undertake original scientific research. They meet in both small and large groups as they gradually become experts in their own fields of study.
10th GradeIn their first year (Introduction to Science Research and Design), students will read a variety of papers and articles as they learn how to dissect and understand scientific writing as they expose themselves to many different fields of study. By the end of their first year, they will be able to read, understand and explain journal-level articles on one or two fields of study. The first year of this course is graded on a pass-fail basis.
11th GradeDuring their second year (Advanced Science Research and Design), students learn the nuts and bolts of scientific research. By reading seminal papers in different fields of science, performing experiments and analyzing results with appropriate statistical method, conducting scaffolded studies of their own and visiting external labs, students will be well positioned to embark on their independent research projects. The second year of the course is evaluated with letter grades. By the end of their second year, students will have established ties with external mentors of facilitators and they will have mastered several different techniques for analyzing and presenting complex scientific studies.
12th GradeIn the third year (Science Research and Design: Symposium), students will principally mentor and facilitate the research and younger students, finalize their own individual research and write a journal article of their own reflecting their results. They will publish their paper in the Proceedings of the Berkeley Carroll Independent Research Conference and present their results at an internal scholarly colloquium.
Watch two 12th grade presentations from the 2015 conference below: