Aquatic Environmental Science
Students will practice the skills of an environmental scientist by investigating human impacts on rivers, streams and ponds, with focus on water chemistry, heavy metals in stream water and sediments, emerging contaminants in municipal wastewater effluents, and endocrine disruption. Field-based experiences will focus on local Boone area environmental problems that will serve as the basis for a variety of student-centered research projects. Biological topics will include aquatic population and biodiversity responses to toxins or disturbance, lab & field sampling and analytical methods, and statistical analysis of data. As a field course, students will visit sites in Boone and surrounding areas to take advantage of the large number of high quality and unique water resources. Therefore, appropriate shoes and clothing that can get wet/muddy are needed. Each student will develop a research hypothesis, collect necessary data to test this hypothesis, provide a written report of their project, and present their findings at the closing symposium.
This research course will utilize pre-term labor as its case study, which is a common health problem in Northwestern North Carolina (many times more in African Americans than other groups). Students will screen subfractions of the herb, Echinacea, to see their effectiveness in blocking expression of inflammatory factors in the birth canal of an infection-induced preterm labor animal model. The class will involve basic research, using animal models, and presentation on the medical perspective of pre-term labor in women, to help students see the connection between the lab and the bed-side. The objectives of the course are as follows: to reinforce key scientific concepts as outlined above, to better self-efficacy through mastery of the following basic biomedical research techniques (animal handling, tissue processing, protein, RNA and DNA isolations, determination of RNA and protein concentrations, RT-PCR, gel-based PCR, Real-Time PCR , Western blot and confocal immunofluorescence, data analysis), and to increase the awareness of the problems of pre-term labor. Students will acquire transferable soft and hard skills through mastery of biomedical research technical skills and scientific process, see the connection between biomedical research and the bedside, learn to work as a team, and learn of career opportunities in medicine and biomedical research. All students will complete a research paper to be presented at the research symposia at the end of the program. Completion of AP Chemistry or AP Biology is preferred.
Exploratory Data Analysis
Analysis of data necessitates knowing which statistical tests to apply (quantitative) or triangulation (qualitative) and understanding statistics requires additional study beyond learning measures of central tendency or passing an Advanced-Placement exam. In this course, we will examine the processes of data generation, collection, and analyses to support the process of research conjectures and hypotheses that aid decision-making. We will explore a variety of statistical techniques and the philosophy behind dissecting data sets as well as various models and graphics involved in interpreting data. Students will either generate their own data or use available data sets to develop a research project that includes writing a paper and oral presentation. Completion of AP Statistics or another pure statistics course is preferred.
The first rockets ever built, the fire-arrows of the Chinese, were not very reliable. Many just exploded on launching! Today, rockets are much more reliable. They fly on precise courses and are capable of going fast enough to escape the gravitational pull of Earth. How is this done? We will investigate the fascinating scientific theories involved with rocketry, including physical principles such as Newton's Laws, the aerodynamic forces that operate on objects in flight (weight, lift, drag, and thrust), different propellants and various engineering concepts such as stability and optimal mass. Applying this knowledge will allow us to design, construct, and test various models to investigate the aerodynamic capabilities and challenges of rocketry. Students will complete investigations by designing, flying and refining actual model rockets. Finally, they will present their findings via a written descriptive research paper and oral presentation.
Global Climate Change
“The 21st century may become known as the Climate Century, yet the majority of citizens do not have a basic understanding of the dynamics of the atmosphere and climate processes” (NOAA, 2007). The urgency of the changing climate demands a greater understanding of our climate system, not only by the leaders of today, but by the scientists, policy makers, and citizens of tomorrow. In this class students will acquire the scientific background and develop skills necessary to understand elements of global climate change. Students will employ the scientific method to answer problems and address issues that focus on aspects of global climate change. In guided experiments, students will develop a scientific hypothesis, collect data relevant to the hypothesis using research-grade meteorological instruments as well as with online weather and climate models, examine the data using quantitative and graphic techniques, and reach conclusions about their stated hypothesis. Through reading and discussion, students will be introduced to controversial issues in global climate change. Students will gain skills in graphing, interpreting, and presenting scientific data that are relevant to any STEM discipline. At the end of the course, results from student research projects will be presented via a written paper and oral presentation. Completion of AP Chemistry, Physics, or Environmental Science is preferred.
Visualization and Image Processing
This course will integrate two areas of study in computer science. First, students will have the opportunity to learn about some digital image processing techniques. Explorations will include image acquisition and display, properties of the human visual system, sampling and quantization, color image representations, image enhancement, transformations, compression and restoration. Second, students will investigate the role of visualization in science, engineering, medicine, and education and will have opportunities to learn different visualization techniques that can be applied to solve problems. Emphasis will be on visualization of data, using available tools to build and understand computational models, and understanding/visualizing solutions to proposed problems. MATLAB, ImageJ, and Excel will be used extensively, but prior knowledge is not required. Students will have daily hands-on activities and will conduct an inquiry-based research project, produce a written paper and oral presentation.