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April 2012

Check out the updates below to find out what students and staff have been up to in the science department!

Students Meet Franklin Medal Laureates

On Tuesday, April 24, students visited The Franklin Institute and met a group of distinguished scientists. Students received a special invitation from the Franklin Institute to meet the recipients of the 2012 Franklin Medal. The Laureates spoke to students and community members. The Franklin Medal is awarded to scientists each year in a number of scientific fields and represents one of the highest honors conferred upon a scientist.

This event served as the Boys' Latin Science Speaker Series session for the month of April.

At Tuesday's event, students met the award-winning scientists at stations in the museum and learned about the scientists' research. For instance, Dr. Ellen Stone Mosley-Thompson and Dr. Lonnie Thompson spoke to students about their research on ice cores in both Antarctica and tropical mountain ranges. The ice cores provide clues to Earth's climate history and serve as evidence for global climate change. Drs. Mosley-Thompson and Thompson also spoke to students about overcoming challenges in research when others had not yet travelled to these locations and done similar research. Drs. Mosley-Thompson and Thompson were the first married pair to win the Franklin Medal since Dr. Marie Currie and Dr. Pierre Currie earned the award in 1909.
Students then listened to the speakers as they answered questions on a panel in the Franklin Theater. The panel addressed issues specific to the scientists' research. Following the panel session, students met with the scientists at small tables for a reception event. Some of our Boys' Latin students were most interested in Dr. Rashid Sunyaev's work in astrophysics. Dr. Sunyaev is an expert on the history of the universe and on black holes. Students spoke to him about the possibility of life in the universe on other planets and on the ways in which scientists are learning more about black holes.

Boys' Latin is thankful to Dr. Frederic Bertley, Vice President of Science and Innovation at The Franklin Institute, for extending the invitation to participate in the day's events. 

Students Learn About Nanotechnology, Forensics, Architecture, and Animal Care as Part of Philadelphia Science Festival Open Labs Day

On Wednesday, April 25, all four teachers in the Boys' Latin science department took groups of students to four different science sites in the city to learn more about science careers and research. Students and their teachers visited Drexel University, Philadelphia Zoo, Temple University, and Philadelphia Innovation Cluster (GPIC) for Energy-Efficient Buildings.
Boys' Latin sent groups of students as part of its Science Excursions program.

Six students took a tour of the animal hospital at the Philadelphia Zoo with Ms. DeChant. They learned about how animals are monitored and cared for, what happens when animals get sick, and how they are brought into the hospital when they need care. Senior Matthew Williams even got some target practice with a dart gun! Afterward, the students toured the zoo to check out all the interesting species in the park.

Ten students visited the Philadelphia Innovation Cluster (GPIC) for Energy-Efficient Buildings at the Navy Yard with Ms. Galib and took a first-hand look at the science behind making Philadelphia’s buildings greener. Students witnessed demonstrations of case-studies using modeling technology that renders a 3D blueprint of a building. Using this model, engineers, designers, and architects can create a building and navigate through it from the perspective of a child, an adult, and a disabled adult. In this way, problems with the structure or functionality of the building is eliminated before the construction company starts building. Students had the chance to wear 3-D glasses and learn how the lab is used by integrated design teams to help model buildings in a holistic way that helps reduce energy use. They also got to test the lab's function—controlling the avatars in the computer program themselves!

Fifteen students visited Drexel University's College of Engineering to learn about science opportunities in college and beyond. Students built liquid crystal thermometers and learned about the use of physics computer models to help make sense of interactions of macromolecules in the brain. Before lunch, a Drexel scientist dazzled students with a display of fiery and colorful chemical reactions. Students also attended a talk by a group of scientists who conduct research in paleontology, animal science, and biomechanics of animal movement. 

The Open Labs programs were part of the 2012 Philadelphia Science Festival.

Sophomore Selected for Research Apprenticeship with Monell Center

Sophomore Keanan McDaniel was recently selected as a research assistant for Dr. Peihua Jiang in the Monell Science Apprenticeship Program. Dr. Jiang, who has a PhD in neurobiology from the University Pittsburgh, studies the connections between taste and metabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes. Keanan interviewed with Monell and was selected by Dr. Jiang to join his research team for the summer at Monell.

The Monell Chemical Senses Center is the world’s only scientific research institute dedicated to conducting basic research on taste and smell. The mission of the Science Apprentice Program is to stimulate interest in biomedical sciences and medicine as careers, particularly for student groups typically underrepresented in science such as women and minorities. By directly exposing students to basic bench and clinical research, the program provides students with a unique and fun experience that is academically and personally enriching. The program consists of seven weeks (June 18 – August 3) of full-time, paid, structured research activity with a Monell scientist. Qualified students have a strong interest in science and research.

Students at Boys' Latin have opportunities to apply for internships and programs during the summer and the school year. Over the past year, students have applied and been accepted to programs coordinated by The Franklin Institute,
College of Physicians of Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania, and Haverford College. Read more about internships and programs available for students.

Sophomore to Participate in Summer AgDiscovery Camp at University of Maryland

Sophomore Tyler Wright was recently selected to participate in summer program for students interested in veterinary medicine at the University of Maryland--Eastern Shore during the month of July. He will participate in the AgDiscovery Camp sponsored by the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

AgDiscovery is an program to help students learn about careers in animal science, veterinary medicine, agribusiness, and plant pathology. This summer program allows participants to live on a college campus and learn about agricultural science from university professors, practicing veterinarians, and professionals working for the U.S. Government. Students chosen to participate in AgDiscovery will gain experience through hands-on labs, workshops, field trips and other group and team building activities.

Tyler and his mother brought the program to the school's attention this year. Tyler has long expressed interest in veterinary medicine and has pursued opportunities like this one to gain experience in medicine and animal science. We hope to have more students apply next year! 

Read more about internships and programs available for students at Boys' Latin.

Ms. DeChant Visits Indianapolis of National Science Teachers Association Annual Convention

From March 29 to April 1, Ms. DeChant spent time in Indianapolis, Indiana, for the National Conference on Science Education sponsored by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). Ms. DeChant's participation in the convention was funded through a fellowship with the NSTA in the New Science Teacher Academy.

As a New Science Teacher Academy Fellow, Ms. DeChant has been participating in a year-long professional development program designed specifically for science teachers. She learns about strategies and techniques for teaching science, collaborates with a community of veteran and new science teachers to build knowledge and skills, and works closely with a 20+ year veteran teacher of physics for targeted guidance on a number of teaching issues.

While in Indianapolis, Claire attended sessions, met with peers from across the country, and brought back ideas to the Boys' Latin science department. One of the ideas she's been moving forward with is a professional development structure for teachers in our school that would involve co-planning and co-observation of a common lesson. We look forward to implementing Ms. DeChant's ideas as we transition into the 2012-2013 school year.

Mr. Smith Visits Tulsa to for National Writing Project Conference, Presents on Science and Social Justice

On Saturday, April 14, Mr. Smith met with teachers from across the country to talk about the possibilities for teaching science and social justice. He presented as part of the Urban Sites Network Conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma, sponsored by the National Writing Project (NWP). The conference theme was "Writing Beyond Borders: Power and Change in Urban Education."
Mr. Smith's session was influenced by two questions: Is there a place for social justice in the science classroom, and how might linking science with social justice provide spaces for student to engage in authentic and meaningful science learning? He worked with teachers to explore rationales for using social justice as a lens through which to learn science and to write; consider frameworks related to engaging in social justice learning in a classroom and associated challenges/implications; and examine projects and ideas that involve learning in science, writing to learn, and a commitment to social justice. The projects came from his experiences in the classroom at Boys' Latin.

While visiting Tulsa and participating in the conference, Mr. Smith was able to tour the historic Greenwood District, the location of the 1921 race riot and subsequent rebuilding of what was then called "Black Wall Street." He also participated in sessions on writing in science, thinking about the role of silence in a classroom, and on digital learning tools in the classroom. Mr. Smith is an NWP member through the local Philadelphia Writing Project site.

Students Take Part in Philadelphia Science Festival Celebration

On Saturday, April 21, Philadelphians convened on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to participate in the Philadelphia Science Festival: Science Carnival. Boys' Latin students took time to document their time at the event by snapping photos.