Issue 94 | February 24, 2017 | The Training of a Budding Scientist

Do you have a young scientist-in-training?  Here are some ideas to help!
For a student with a lot of curiosity about life and the world, science can be one of the most stimulating studies in high school. Richard Feynman, a Nobel Prize winning American theoretical physicist, in 1963 at a lecture at the University of Washington. explained the making of a scientist in these terms:
  "Another value of science is the fun called intellectual enjoyment which some people get from reading and learning and thinking about it, and which others get from working in it."
"With more knowledge comes a deeper, more wonderful mystery, luring one on to penetrate deeper still. Never concerned that the answer may prove disappointing, with pleasure and confidence we turn over each new stone to find unimagined strangeness leading on to more wonderful questions and mysteries - certainly a grand adventure!"
When a child gets a taste of such an adventure, that is when a scientist is born."
How can you as a homeschooler introduce your student to the grand adventure?  Following are a few ideas and a description of a course that could have triggered some scientific thinking right in the kitchen.

March through May, we reward those who plan ahead with the best registration price available all year.  If a student registers for the 2017-18 year and pays in full, $100 can be saved.   The special tuition price is $445.  A free Resource Advisor and Log book will be  sent to each student who enrolls during this season.  To register, go to the website and fill out the form on line.  Pay with PayPal or call the office with a credit card number 1-800-882-2828.
"My mother made me a scientist without ever intending to. Every other Jewish mother in Brooklyn would ask her child after school, 'So? Did you learn anything today?' But not my mother. 'Izzy,' she would say, 'did you ask a good question today?' That difference - asking good questions - made me become a scientist." ~Isidor Isaac Rabi
At NARHS, our aim is for students to be prepared for what comes next.  If science studies are in their futures, then learning the basics about good scientific thinking would be a logical first step.  Asking good questions, observing the subject, making reasonable guesses, and then following up with experimentation are foundational steps in the scientific method.
Although NARHS does allow one credit of science study in which no lab is involved, still one lab science will be necessary.  For the activity-inclined students, that is good news.
A minimum of 12 lab activities, reports, experiments and projects make up the needed elements of a "lab science."   Lab report forms are available on the website; click on the downloads tab.
We have been asked if culinary arts can be called a science.  Our answer is "maybe". It needs to be treated as a scienc before it can be called a science.  The following is a great example of how a NARHS family did EXACTLY that. 
In the portfolio sent by Austin and Anastasia Blanchard was an excellent course description for Culinary Science, "This course will explore the science of food while helping the student gain basic culinary skills."  
The objectives included these:
  • To learn about gluten
  • To discover marinades, why we marinade and what they do
  • To study substitutions and why certain ingredients are in recipes
  • To learn about pickling and preserving foods
  • To learn about leavening agents
  • To learn what a thickening agent is and how to use it
  • To discover unique properties of eggs and how they react to different elements
Under What we did to learn this topic, was this explanation:
"We broke the year into 9 units and studied each unit by first researching it on the internet and then writing up a research paper.  Then we proceeded to test what we learned in the "lab" by choosing recipes, making them and writing up the observations."
Here is an example of one study conducted on the egg:
A diagram of the egg was drawn with these parts labeled - shell, outer membrane, inner membrane, vitelline membrane, blastoderm, yolk, air cell, chalazae, albumin.  In the lab write-up, these questions were answered:
  1. Why do egg whites respond better to whipping when at room temperature?
  2. Why won't egg whites whip if there is a drop of yolk in them?
  3. Why does a copper bowl cause egg whites to get so fluffy? What is the chemical reaction?
  4. What does cream of tartar and lemon juice do chemically to get egg whites stiff if you use a glass or stainless steel bowl?
  5. What chemically happens to egg whites when you use an aluminum bowl or wooden spoon?
  6. Why does adding sugar cause egg whites to not peak as firmly?
  7. Why does overbeating egg whites liquefy them?
For another project, Austin wrote a report on yeast that starts this way: "Yeast are a single-celled fungi that are related to a wide variety of other fungi that people are more familiar with, such as edible mushrooms, molds that are found on blue cheese, molds that produce antibiotics for medical use and common baker's yeast that are used to leaven bread. "  He goes on to explain the fermentation process that causes the bread to rise. 
In Anastasia's packet is a report written on properties and problems with gluten.  This is just a small portion of what they presented. 
Each of the units and reports were graded using the "Goals-based Grading Tool" (which can be found on the website) by the mom, Jennifer Blanchard, with lots of notes written and suggestions given.  Evidence for the course included all the written reports, pictures taken in the "lab", diagrams, and recipes.
This appeared to be an awesome science course, with lab. 
  • Science is not just a tidy package of knowledge.
  • Science is not just a step-by-step approach to discovery.
  • Science is more like a mystery inviting anyone who is interested to become a detective and join in the fun.
NARHS guidelines on Science Courses
Such courses can be challenging to create; we highly recommend that you work closely with your advisor before the student begins the study to make sure it qualifies as a science course. 

Related to the science course questions we receive is a FAQ stated this way:  "What counts as a science lab?"

NARHS replies:  In order for a science study to qualify as a lab, there must be a minimum of 12 written reports on activities, observations, projects or experiments that are related to a book study that has been done in a science field.
If you have any questions regarding this, please consult your NARHS advisor.  

We are receiving some exciting news this summer about colleges where NARHS students are being admitted, because our accreditation is making a difference.  Those include Princeton, Northwest in Chicago, Cornell, Columbia, University of Maryland Baltimore County, SUNY Geneseo. and Brown, just to name a few.   One NARHS student is being considered at Cambridge.  
North Atlantic Regional High School | 14 S. 6th Avenue, Yakima, WA 98902  
800-882-2828 |
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