AP Research Will Reap Rewards

AP Capstone is a College Board program that equips students with the independent research, collaborative teamwork and communication skills that are increasingly valued by colleges. After the introduction course, AP Seminar, students advance to AP Research, where they design, plan and conduct a year-long, research-based investigation on a topic that is most interesting to them. This could be a topic they were able to explore in AP Seminar or a brand new idea.

What makes this class stand out from general high school classes is that students conduct their own investigation on their chosen topic, with the teacher acting as a guide to help them navigate through their project.

“I hope the students will gain confidence in their ability to solve problems themselves; small problems, like how to find specific information, to big problems, like how to cure cancer,” AP Research and Biotech teacher Ms. Gazda said. “Today’s students are the ones who will be solving tomorrow’s problems.”

During class on Sept. 29, 2016, AP Research teacher Ms. Gazda explains to junior Elizabeth Smith what her research question should look like. Research questions need to be specific and testable. Photo by Maymuna Elmi.

This much freedom, where students have complete control over the outcome of their project, can be both exciting and frightening.

“I have always been interested in space and astrophysics, but I never had the opportunity to explore them,” AP Research student and senior Jenna Yarrington said. “In light of having the chance to choose from any topic from any field for my project, I decided to explore the mysteries of black holes.”

This research project also gives students the opportunity to explore different fields and determine if their project may have a career path in store for them, but because it lasts almost a full year, it can seem intimidating.

“A year long project can seem so daunting because you don’t know if you’ll be able to develop research around a topic there is little information about,” AP Research student and junior Illiana Mercer said.

To help students wade the waters of a year-long research project that requires in-depth knowledge of a student’s chosen topic and precise data gathering, students have the opportunity to have an expert advisor to give guidance and steer the student in a more viable direction. This expert will have experience in the field that the student is exploring which can take some of the pressure off of the student. Right now, the students are currently in the planning stage, molding their research questions to be precise and directed. By March, they will have completed their project and will present their results to a review board made up of the AP Capstone teachers, Ms. Gazda and Mr. Brimhall, and an expert advisor with knowledge of the specific topic or field. For more information about this program, contact Ms. Gazda in room 717 or Mr. Brimhall in room 286.

On Sept. 29, 2016, junior Zachary Barbour helps senior Christian Shaw search for his expert adviser, who will offer guidance to Shaw on his project and specific knowledge from his field. Expert advisers are generally professionals in the field a student’s topic falls under. They have in-depth knowledge and can offer insight if a student needs specialized information. Photo by Maymuna Elmi.

(Featured photo by Paul Stanton)