Long-time readers know that each year I orchestrate a high school student research showcase. At the showcase we also release our scholarly journal, Investigations. Below is the introduction I wrote for our most recent edition.
I am so pleased to write this introduction for the release of our fourth annual scholarly journal Investigations. Again, I am inspired by the insights, depth, creativity, and important work of the high school researchers and authors who brought these projects and papers to fruition. In reading through these papers and visiting with the young people in our internship program, three key themes emerged. These themes include: a global focus, a commitment to service and the importance of challenging work.
When given the opportunity to orchestrate independent projects, I was encouraged by my students desire to engage in meaningful work. The projects in this volume increased my students’ resolve to work towards environmental sustainability, equity in education and increasing access to high quality healthcare for low-income communities. Students wrestled with and worked to address gender inequality. Students were active in creating more equitable learning opportunities in science and math for students with learning disabilities. Two of our students completed internships supporting public health work. I had a student work on increasing diversity recruitment to attract more women and people of color to the college of engineering.
My students held their own in research labs in chemistry, engineering, biology, and other professional settings. They read, critiqued, and conducted scholarly research. They presented at research showcases at the University of Missouri and Rock Bridge High School. They worked on projects in immune staining, hydraulic bed sensors, reducing carcinogens in water, and bifurcation in structures. They leaned on their training from the advanced placement program in Columbia Public Schools. No one made my students pursue such complex problems. However, they were drawn to challenging work, because when schools support a growth mindset, it is fun (and safe) to work through difficult problems.
The success of this program rests in the hands of many stakeholders. First and foremost, I want to thank our internship hosts for taking my students into your labs and offices. Thank you for your patience, guidance and mentorship. Thank you also to all of the graduate students who made space for a high school student to join your projects and learn from you. Thank you to our CPS teachers, and particularly our AP teachers, for preparing my students with advanced relevant curriculum, and the capacity to struggle through high level work when answers and solutions are not obvious. Finally, thank you to all of the young people who participated in our internship program this school year. Your work, insights, and questions inspire me personally and professionally. It is because of each of you, that I believe our world leans towards hope.
Chair, Gifted Education