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The following strategies have been successfully employed to initiate and develop student research programs that prepare students for local and national science and mathematics competitions. None of the procedures are exclusive to the type of program under which they are listed. Often combinations are most effective. As in any educational program, the teacher makes the difference.
These require less school funding and are usually less formal in nature. Start with highly motivated and capable students and maintain a reasonable student/mentor ratio that allows for greater individualized interaction. There may be time, budget and space constraints on teaching basic laboratory techniques, research and computer skills. Effective summer research programs or internships are essential .
Venues and resources where you might start your program can include:
This model usually consists of a scheduled course with a more structured curriculum in basic laboratory and research techniques. The class time and grouping can be as flexible as your school's scheduling allows. A one-year course approach can be effective in preparing students for summer research programs and internships. This course is treated as a science elective, usually with a small budget and access to laboratory and computer facilities. Again, summer research programs or internships are essential.
Success begets success. Often larger programs evolve from the high standard of work that are results of the other models. They can usually be found in specialized or magnet high schools. Students participate in summer programs, internships or work with individual mentors.
Often educators think that high level research competitions such as the Siemens program are beyond the reach of their students and limited district resources. But you only need one student and your own initiative to get started.
Encourage your colleagues to start a research program in your high school by sharing your experiences with your fellow educators. Write to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll post your case study on our website for others to share.