This summer, middle schoolers with a passion for scientific research enrolled in the Summer Science Research Society (SSRS), a class in which the students do individual research on topics of their interest and report on their findings. On the final day of the class, students present the results of their research to their classmates and parents. “This is an interest-based, student-driven project and I’m there to facilitate and guide them through the whole process,” said middle school science teacher Kathy Peng, who runs the SSRS.
Students begin by picking a topic and doing background research. They then design experiments to test their hypotheses. Rising eighth grader Abigail Samuel’s project involved using principles of chemistry to bake cookies, including testing how letting dough rest for different periods of time altered texture and flavor. Caden Ruan, a rising seventh grader, designed and built a small-scale version of a machine that picks up plastic waste in the ocean. Rising sixth grader Evan Yuan investigated a new way of making a plant-based hamburger.
Another important element of the class is learning how to present data. Students document the process with graphs and images, and present their research at a virtual symposium, explaining their research methods and conclusions.