New program aims to expand student research opportunities

    Juniors Johnny Rohrbach and Meredith Cummings conduct a science experiment. Advanced Authentic Research will provide students the ability to carry out experiments much like the ones in class, though they will be responsible for designing their own research. Photo by Adrienne Kwok.

    Juniors Johnny Rohrbach and Meredith Cummings conduct a science experiment during chemistry class. Advanced Authentic Research, a new student research program, will also provide students with the opportunity to carry out experiments, though they will be responsible for designing their own research. “A program where high schoolers can create their own thesis and research a topic of their choosing would be beneficial towards a student’s education and interesting for students,” Cummings said. Photo by Adrienne Kwok.

    The application deadline for Advanced Authentic Research, a program that will allow Palo Alto Unified School District high school students to showcase their applied research skills in a variety of academic subjects, is approaching on Sept. 25.

    According to AAR Coordinator Jeong Choe, students will be responsible for creating a specific thesis and researching their own topics. Students can conduct  research on a multitude of themes, including history, psychology, business and sports.

    “The program is a unique opportunity for students in grades 10-12,” Choe said. “It is designed for students with interest, passion, curiosity and perseverance to investigate an authentic topic of their choosing.”

    In addition, students will be paired with a mentor knowledgeable in the chosen area of research, according to Choe.

    “They [Mentors] will support and facilitate each student’s work in their own laboratories, offices and other settings,” Choe said. “If students are conducting surveys, they may be at another place. If students are doing computational work, the place may be flexible.”

    This year, students will participate in the program on their own time after school or during the weekend this year, but starting next year the program will be incorporated into a 7th Period class, according to PAUSD Deputy Supt. Markus Autrey.

    Students will receive 10 Career Technical Education school credits for completing the program and working for a minimum of 60 hours per semester, though the scheduling is flexible. The class is pass or fail, according to Choe, and progress report will be collected from participants in February.

    “Some students may choose to spend more time than this based on their development of interests and passion in their research project,” Choe said.

    While the program is similar to Paly’s Science Research Project program, AAR is not limited to science-related topics.

    “You can view AAR as an expansion of SRP,” Choe said. “SRP has a science focus and a lab component is a crucial piece. In AAR, we are giving opportunities to all the other disciplines.”

    According to Choe, students will begin researching their topics in October and finalize their findings in May.

    Both Paly and Gunn High School are providing the program for its inaugural year.

    Gunn High School AAR liaison Angela Merchant says AAR is an excellent program for students.

    “We are looking forward to organizing and implementing this great opportunity for kids,” Merchant said.

    Applications are due through an email to Choe at [email protected] For more information, contact math teacher and AAR Teacher on Special Assignment Deanna Chute at [email protected]

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