A keyword in education is differentiation, meaning that, in essence, each student will always have an opportunity to work at an appropriate, challenging level, no matter what the skills and ability level are at any given moment. Even in Chem-Phys, where students are accelerated, bright and motivated, some individuals will learn material more quickly while others need some additional time, and that is all fine and normal when dealing with samples of people. What we want to establish is a system where, no matter where you fall on the spectrum of learning and ability, you will always have the opportunities to be challenged and make continuous progress in learning science, laboratory techniques and methods, and math/computer applications. In other words, I don’t want you to ever be bored.
Here are some opportunities you may wish to take advantage of:
For the researchers:
What: Do independent science research. It can be through physical experimentation, or theoretical/computational research, or both! It could be in a professional lab, on your computer, or something you build in your basement.
How: Choose a very specific research question of some topic of interest, and then try to figure it out. We can help you find that topic and question.
Options: Many students will write up the research and submit a paper to the Regeneron Science Talent Search (also known as the Nobel Prize for high school), the Siemens Science Competition, the Google Science Fair, the IJAS Science Fair (first step to Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, ISEF), and the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium.
You can also help Doc V with the CABS site, which is an effort to help any students and teachers around the country do original science research without the need to access professional labs.
See Doc V’s web site for some examples of past student papers.
Attend the Research and Data Club, which will be meeting during some lunch periods each week, throughout the year. We have two NU astrophysics grad students to help us learn programming, and then applications to research and 'big data,' which allows one to do all sorts of computational research with simulations, as well as access online datasets. This is a unique opportunity for high school students!
For the Physicists:
What: Work on more advanced problems, develop new experiments or simulations for class, or explore other areas of physics that interest you but are not covered in class.
How: See Doc V, and we’ll chat and get you started on something.
- If you learn certain physics topics more quickly than the rest of the class, we can get you going on more advanced problems, or try to figure out topics such as Lagrangian or Hamiltonian mechanics, Maxwell’s equations (in E&M), relativity, quantum mechanics, cosmology, particle physics, etc. This can include designing your own independent study course, if you have time.
- Work on additional computer applications. These may include setting up your own computer simulations via Interactive Physics (for mechanics) or doing ActivPhysics or PhET simulated labs online in just about every physics topic; learn about additional topics outside the curriculum by writing your own simulations with Java, C++, FlexPDE (such as heat flow and diffusion) or NetLogo; making use of Matlab or Python coding to access data or do advanced analysis; making use of electronic sensors and computer interfaced data collection systems, as well as data analysis techniques; digital photo and video analysis (including high speed video up to 1000 fps); Excel exercises for data manipulation and analysis;
- Try advanced problems in physics to prepare for Physics Olympiad and Physics Bowl;
- If you are a photographer, try to come up with the best photo in the Physics Photo Contest.
For the Tinkerers:
What: Get your hands dirty and figure things out by ‘playing’ with a variety of devices or objects.
How: Getting your hands on appropriate tools and materials. Doc V can help with this.
Options: There are many – here are a few:
- Take part in bridge building or robotics contests, or anything else you enjoy;
- If there is sufficient interest, pursue possibility of partnering with NU and a school in Alabama (Mr. Brian Copes) to 3-D print prosthetics for people in 3rd world countries. See Doc V if interested!
- Bring in devices and gadgets from home that you want to share with us or try to figure out how they work (like a ‘show and tell’ activity);
- Develop video techniques for making measurements and observing various phenomena;
- Get involved with the FUSE that will be taking place about once each week;
- Build Rube-Goldberg machines;
- Build advanced electric circuits, possibly even your own computer;
- Use Arduinos to develop your own sensors and measuring devices...club run largely by students, and inspired by a NU grant project we are involved with!
- Try to learn a computer programming language, such as Python. Take advantage of having NU grad students coming into our classes!
For the Competitors and Collaborators:
- Many of you will be invited to be on TSA TEAMS (formerly JETS) teams;
- A small number of students (14) will comprise the WYSE Academic Challenge team;
- Participate in the COMAP High School Math Modeling Contest (i.e. the 36-hour problem);
- Mega Math Challenge (i.e. the 14-hour problem, with scholarship money). Note only two teams per school can participate, and teams can have up to 5 students;
- There are writing contests, such as DuPont Essay Challenge and the Samsung Scholarship (write short essay about how technology advancements will affect the future);
- And yet another option for writers is to take tough science topics or issues and write them up for the 'layperson.' This may involve working with a professional research group or professor. It can be similar to a Wikipedia entry, with links and videos embedded when appropriate. We'll put you work on the blog to share with the world!
- Take on a team challenge like Exploravision, where you project where certain technologies will be in 20 years;
- Engineering and Design Competitions:
SourceAmerica Design Challenge develop assistive device for people with disabilities to help them in workplace;
Internet Science and Technology Fair (ISTF) allows teams of students to use Internet tools to develop solutions to real-world problems...each team will have an engineer or scientist online adviser
Destination Imagination teams develop creative solutions to problems
FIRST High School Robotics Challenge
The National Robotics Challenge
And many more are out there, just Google engineering competitions or science competitions...
- Join the Math Team;
- Join the Science Olympiad Team;
- Join the Chess Team;
- Collaborate and produce useful physics videos, or interview professors and tour their labs to make short videos explaining their cutting-edge research for the general public as well as physics classes.
For the Writers, Artists, Musicians:
- Write children's stories to get across single STEM topics. In collaboration with Effingham High School (middle of Illinois), animate the stories to make e-books, or possibly make short movies of the stories, to create an online library of STEM resources for any teacher and student to use. These stories will be reviewed and given feedback by elementary classes in Pennsylvania and Australia, to ensure they are appropriate and make sense. See an example of Little Sue and the Rock, which tries to get across atomic and nuclear structure. Heck, why not include original music videos for elementary students!!
- Create short letters, videos of experiments/demos/explanations/songs/poems for 2nd grade classes in Australia. We collaborate with Mr. Christian Williams of St. Michael School in Victoria.
For those who enjoy Community Service:
- Help collect donations and eventually collaborate with Malawi schools;
- Help fundraising for the Kranti School in India, where Ms. Robin Chaurasiya and her staff work with girls from the 'red light' district (who have been forced into the sex trade);
- Senior and Junior girls, be a mentor for sophomore girls in 2 Chem/Phys (see Doc V);
- Get involved in our internal peer tutoring (see Doc V);
- Join WiSTEM;
- Get involved in student government.
What am I missing????? Let me know!! BE CREATIVE!!