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"Science Beyond the Classroom"

"Science Beyond the Classroom"

Students at Choate practice authentic laboratory science
Choate Rosemary Hall Bulletin, Fall 2009

In 2003 Choate Rosemary Hall, a prominent Connecticut coeducational boarding school, launched a new program designed to introduce selected juniors and seniors to “real science.” Called the Science Research Program (SRP), it offers bright youngsters who are potentially interested in careers in the sciences an opportunity to get more hands-on experience than most high school students could ever dream about.

“We tell the students right at the beginning, ‘You have no idea what science is,’” says Choate science teacher Deron Chang, who helped to develop the program. SRP makes sure they find out. Every participant is required to find an internship in a prominent researcher’s laboratory, a daunting task for high-school students with limited scientific expertise.

“Choate doesn’t find the internship opportunities for them,” says Chang. “What we do is teach them to read and interpret real primary literature. It’s hard work, but they learn how to do it. They read the papers and share what they’ve learned with their fellow SRP students. The material gets discussed in class. Gradually, collectively and individually, they figure out what it means.”

After a semester of what amounts to science research boot camp, the students identify prominent researchers – often at nearby Yale University – in whose labs they would like to intern for a summer. Then they contact those researchers and use marketing skills they have learned in class to obtain internships.

“When Choate hired me to write a feature, I was very excited,” says Jim Smith. “SRP is a terrific program. It delivers results that reflect very positively upon Choate. Writing the story gave me opportunities to talk with scientists doing important research at Yale and with some exceptionally bright young people. It was great fun!”

Click on the link at left to read "Science Beyond the Classroom." It's in the Fall 2009 issue, starting on page 8.

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