The worthiness of the Research Program is frequently questioned by freshman in the Medical Science Institute when choosing their required track; the Research Program is known for its academically challenging curriculum and the dedication required by its students.
The Research Program offers students the opportunity of working as interns in college laboratories under the mentorship of college professors starting junior year. The track offers the classes: Research Projects to sophomores, Junior Research to juniors and Senior Research to seniors. Research Projects dedicates the curriculum to prepare students for laboratory work, in which students will use during Junior Research, when they will complete research projects in college labs. Within Senior Research, in addition to continuing laboratory work, students will enroll into national and local competitions to showcase the results of their research projects.
Looking for labs is hard; its been months since I started looking for a lab, but I still haven’t gotten in one yet, Christine Ly 16 said.
College professors do not readily accept high school students into their labs because most juniors do not have lab experience; although the sophomore class, Research Projects, intends to expose students to various lab techniques such as DNA extraction in preparation for Junior Research.
I’ve been in a lab for about a month, Emily Hui 16 said, but my mentor still doesn’t trust me enough to give me a project.
Students within labs are required to conduct college level research, but some mentors do not readily give projects to inexperienced high school students.
Students work in labs of various fields such as biology, chemistry, engineering environmental, psychology, and physics. The majority of the labs that students attend are near the school, such as Brooklyn College and SUNY Downstate. Some labs require students to work on live specimens, such as mice.
According to Mr. Glenn Elert, approximately 40% of students do not continue into Senior Research due to various reasons, such as not finding a lab, not finding a suitable lab, or unable to complete or obtain a project.
Whenever I look at my completed project I feel satisfied, Mohammad Hasan 15 said. Seeing the results makes the hundreds of hours I spent in lab worth it.
Seniors within the Research Program typically completed at least one project, and they will enter their finished project within various national or local competitions.
Hasan noted, The Intel application contains many short responses, essays, and recommendation. Filling that long application takes weeks.
Seniors, in addition to the required 16 monthly lab hours, have to complete lengthy applications for various science competitions. The competitions that students attend typically are: Siemens Competition, Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS), New York City Science and Engineering Fair (NYCSEF), Intel Talent Search, St. Joseph’s College High School Poster Session, Google Science Fair, and Brooklyn College Science Day. Students within the past have won awards in various competitions.
Raymond Li 16 said, I applied for Robotics so I wouldn’t have to go to Research, its too much work!
To some students, other tracks such as Robotics and Medical Issues serve as alternatives to the academically intensive Research Track.
According to Mr. Elert many students take the Research Track because, when you make it to senior science research you have proved to the world that you have what it takes to succeed.
Despite the large amount of workload a researcher will face, many students continue to apply and finish the Research Track to prove their academic abilities.
Written by Victor Lee
Photo by Colleen Chasteau
This article originally appeared in the November 2014 edition of Argus.