Authentic Research For Deep Personalized Learning

I don’t know about you, but, when I was in high school, I never had the opportunity to follow my passion let alone conduct multi-year research studies with a mentor. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even know students could conduct research.

The students in our high school have the opportunity to take a course, Science Research,  that allows them to conduct original science research, gather authentic data and then take their research to competitions.  Each year students come together to share their progress on their research in a STEMposium.   

 

Some of the topics presented in this year’s High School STEMposium are as follows:

Effects of Self Enurination Behavior on Luteinizing Hormone Levels in Bucks

Effectiveness of Immunotherapy (Anti PD-L1, 2) in Different Cancers

Utilizing Microsoft Kinect in the Math Classroom

Security Survey of Network-Enabled Devices of our  Student Population

Study after study confirms that students learn deeply when they follow their passion, however, how many students have the opportunity to create their own learning?  When you read about the studies, it is exciting, but when you see the passion in student’s eyes while they are pursuing their interests, it takes on a new meaning.

The students begin the process of exploring various subject areas in the sciences that interest them, and then begin the process of delving deep into the subject through scientific journals and current research. Some of the areas that are explored to start on the journey of investigation include mathematics, technology, physical sciences, life sciences, social sciences and psychology.

Students planning their research are required to independently find a mentor in their field of study. They work collaboratively with their mentors to guide them through the process of experiment design and analysis of data. Some mentors are professors, doctors, software engineers, and many other professions. Through this partnership with their mentor, they learn to think critically, communicate effectively and manage their time and resources. This passionate, deep learning develops self-direction which allows students to think critically and to continuously solve complex problems related to their research.

Annually during the STEMposium, each student has the opportunity to share their project with the greater community.  What a great night! For more information, www.riverdell.org/STEMposium.

Every student should have the chance to find and to follow their passion to become life long learners.


Marianthe Williams has been a district level administrator supporting teaching and learning with technology and professional learning for the past 15 years. Most recently, she has supported the River Dell Regional School District in the implementation of their one-to-one computing initiative which is about to enter its ninth year at the high school. In addition, she supports technology infusion into the middle school’s learner-centered environment. Williams created an elite team of technology turnkey teacher trainers within each discipline who provide ongoing, personalized options through face- to-face, on-demand and flipped professional learning opportunities to their colleagues. She is active in several state and local technology director associations and she currently serves on the technology committee for the New Jersey Association of School Administrators. Twitter: @williamsanthy 

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