Custom Class: masthead-container

Empowering

Refresh page when toggling 'compose' mode on and off to edit.

Recommended Image Size: 1440px wide by 600px tall
(this text will not display with 'compose' mode off or on live site)

STEM in the Upper School

Through our science, technology, engineering, and math offerings, high schoolers develop as critical thinkers, flexible problem-solvers, and responsible citizens.

Core courses in biology and chemistry highlight fundamental concepts and provide students with a foundation to choose and excel in electives as upperclassmen. Teachers regularly provide students with opportunities to ask questions, conduct experiments, and analyze data. Upper schoolers become confident in evaluating evidence, constructing arguments, and applying their knowledge to novel situations.

Student uses a microscope

Teachers regularly provide students with opportunities to ask questions, conduct experiments, and analyze data.

In math, students are introduced to new techniques and strategies on a daily basis. They employ concepts from algebra, geometry, and statistics in modeling real-life applications and building a skill set that prepares them for college. Lessons challenge upper schoolers to take their abilities to the next level, be resilient to setbacks, and eventually, master the concepts. Students develop an approach to learning that ensures success in math and everyday life.

Our computer science program empowers students to solve problems through abstraction, algorithmic thinking, and utilizing the design process.

Computer science taps into students’ interest in technology, helping them become innovators who can design technical solutions to problems in science, math, social studies, the arts, and literacy. Class topics include proficiency and literacy in hardware, software, computer programming (coding), physical computing (engineering and robotics), data analysis, design, digital citizenship and computational thinking.

Upper schoolers enjoy plenty of opportunities for STEM experiential learning. During a class trip to the Uintas, freshmen study the biology, geology, and hydrology of the mountain range. Interim trips allow upper schoolers to explore the natural world of Utah and beyond. Computer science students make apps with real-world uses. And extracurriculars such as Make Club and Science Olympiad let our upper schoolers further explore their interests while they develop their peer-leadership skills.

Personalized Attention

Student working with teacher in science class.

Our Upper School has an average class size of 13. Every student is well-known and supported in the ways that best meet their needs.

Upper School STEM News

Data Dash: My Tech-Driven Orthopedic Internship Helping Injured Patients

Test Test

By Steven Doctorman, Class of 2020

I begin by applying a double-sided adhesive sticker to a motion-reflective marker—a small, silvery sphere. There are about 30 markers on the floor, each one in need of a sticker. These markers are then applied to certain parts of the patient's body, each one in a specific location in relation to a joint or muscle mass.

Patients crack the occasional joke: about the tight shorts they have to wear, about how tearing off the markers will feel like removing a Band-Aid, about how their midriff is on display when markers are used to track hip joints.

I sit on a stool, scoot behind the computer, and watch as one of the personal trainers gives the same instructions: the cameras in the ceiling track every movement, and we first have to calibrate those cameras by having the patient make certain movements, such as marching with one leg or kicking out to the side. The markers appear on the computer and we record movements, from walking and running to jumping and squatting. Patients are here because of certain injuries, and by monitoring movements the computer algorithm can calculate the data necessary to diagnose treatment options. I, both literally and figuratively, take a backseat to the computer work, but I'm captivated by the procedure and by doctors' discussions of the asymmetry of certain joints.

I intern at The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital (TOSH) in a lab that works with physical trainers to help individuals in post-surgical recovery. My responsibilities range from data tracking and analysis to marker prep and observation. On days when we don't have a patient, I use a computer program to identify flaws in previously recorded data and replace those flaws with accurate estimates. On days when we have a patient, I help apply adhesive stickers to markers and then observe data collection and doctors' analyses. This kind of lab work fascinates me, and witnessing the real-world implications of technical and biomedical innovation is inspirational.

I first learned about Rowland Hall's internship program from a flyer on a hallway bulletin board. It described how students worked in a blood-synthesis lab over the summer, and what they learned. As I became more interested in lab work my sophomore year, I reached out to Dr. Laura Johnson, an Upper School English teacher who also manages student internships. She's the archetypal Rowland Hall teacher, dedicated to helping her students succeed. Her efforts were heartwarming: she worked tirelessly to identify an opportunity that matched my schedule and interests. She contacted an array of labs and eventually found the TOSH internship in September, the beginning of my junior year.

My work at TOSH has directly intersected with my classes, and vice versa. In Advanced Topics Biology, learning about data collection with standard error bars allowed me to identify whether someone's hip flexion was within the healthy range. In physics, learning about motion and gravity have helped me understand the results from force plates. Even calculus has helped me with data synthesis, as I'm able to track a graph on the x-, y-, and z-axes and apply the correct computer algorithm to replace faulty data. My schoolwork applies to real-world concepts, which, in my opinion, is priceless.

As recording wraps up, I help one of the physical trainers remove the markers. I take off the adhesive stickers and throw them away. I then watch as the doctors write a report about what treatment and exercises are needed. They compare the patient's data with a database that shows the abilities of healthy individuals. When I'm not actively helping, I either watch the doctors write their report, or return to old data and correct errors. The latter improves their database. And each recording helps make a difference in people's lives, which is an added bonus to an already meaningful internship.

Current upper schoolers interested in internships should contact teacher Laura Johnson. Prospective families who want to learn more are invited to our January 30 Upper School Open Door—RSVP here.    STEM

Student Steven Doctorman at his TOSH internship.

Can't Stop, Won't Stop: Three Faculty Members Embark on Exciting Summer Professional Development Opportunities

While summer break often conjures up images of relaxation, such as reading a paperback novel on a sandy beach or sipping lemonade on a shady porch, in reality, many members of the Rowland Hall community are working between June and August. The months without daily classes allow staff to tackle major projects, including upgrades to campus facilities, and teachers have more time for collaboration and conference travel.

This summer, three of our faculty members in the middle and upper schools will be engaged in particularly exciting professional development opportunities, which are sure to reap benefits for the entire community. Read on to learn where Rob Wilson, Alisa Poppen, and Jeremy Innis are headed!


Upper School biology teacher Rob Wilson (pictured, top) will spend four days at the University of California, Davis, for a Penn State sponsored program called Arctic Plant Phenology Learning through Engaged Science (APPLES). Led by a group of researchers, Mr. Wilson and a cohort of selected teachers will study climate science as it relates to Arctic ecology, with a focus on developing a classroom project he can implement at Rowland Hall next year.

Mr. Wilson has been making changes to his curriculum over the past few years, both to support the school's Strategic Plan and align with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The APPLES workshop will incorporate three-dimensional learning from the NGSS and even provide teachers with equipment—such as cameras or warming chambers—they can use to conduct experiments with students in the future.

"We don't spend a lot of time with living things in biology classrooms nowadays," Mr. Wilson said. He believes the new equipment and methodology will enable him to teach with more living models, in turn empowering his students to develop an intuitive sense of living systems. "It's something you can't really test—you have to experience it," he added.

The APPLES workshop will also allow Mr. Wilson to begin a collaboration with leading climate science researchers, one he hopes to continue for several years.


Alisa Poppen teaching students.

Alisa Poppen, Upper School science department chair, travels to Ames, Iowa, in mid-June to spend seven weeks working as a research assistant in a genetics laboratory at Iowa State University. The paid assistantship is part of the Research Experiences for Teachers program, funded by the National Science Foundation.

"Because I'm in the classroom all day, I don't have the opportunity to engage in long-term research projects," Ms. Poppen said. "I'm excited to spend this time on a college campus, in a lab, interacting with people who focus on scientific research all day."

Ms. Poppen's participation in the program comes at an ideal time for Rowland Hall, as the Upper School will be transitioning all science courses from Advanced Placement to Advanced Topics beginning in the fall. She hopes the material she encounters in the genetics lab—which for her, specifically, will be the study of chromosomal variation in species of cotton—will help inform the curriculum for AT biology courses, especially in the area of molecular biology. She also plans to use her summer-immersion experience to reinforce the value of classroom laboratory practices with students.

"I believe it's motivating for our students to know that what we're doing is the same thing real scientists do," she said.


Jeremy Innis leading the Chorus at Convocation.

Interfaith Chaplain Jeremy Innis was one of 25 teachers selected to participate in the Religious Worlds Institute, a summer fellowship supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Mr. Innis will spend three weeks in New York City participating in field studies, reading texts, attending presentations, and collaborating with peers to assess and develop curriculum.

Mr. Innis applied for the Institute in large part because he wants to enhance the experiential learning component of world religions courses at Rowland Hall. He hopes visiting religious sites in New York City and participating in community rituals will give him new ideas for preparation and student reflection on field visits.

He is excited to have the opportunity to be a student again and mentioned looking forward to a presentation on Islam by one of his former professors from Harvard. "Broadening my own perspective on the diversity of religious beliefs and practices will also help me develop new curriculum for the chapel program," Mr. Innis said. "I'm fascinated by some of the sites we will visit and looking forward to meeting and speaking with many different people of faith."

 

People

 

Students receiving awards.

Congratulations to senior Alison Kimball (pictured, top left), junior Anya Mulligan, and sophomore Alex Armknecht, who earlier this year won regional honorable mentions from the Award for Aspirations in Computing. The National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) sponsors the awards, which recognize high school girls for their computing-related achievements and interests as part of an effort to encourage more women to choose careers in technology.

Since 2014, nine Rowland Hall students have won 12 NCWIT awards, including two honorable mentions at the national level—read about the most recent national award in Fine Print. This year, Alison, Anya, and Alex were three of 31 Northern Utah Affiliate award recipients selected for their aptitude and interest in information technology and computing, solid leadership ability, good academic history, and plans for post-secondary education.

STEM

Rowland Hall students winning high school Bench To Bedside competition,

For the second consecutive year, Rowland Hall students captured the Best Young Entrepreneur award at the University of Utah Center for Medical Innovation's Bench to Bedside competition night Monday, April 9. Seniors Michael Palmer, Chris Ausbeck, Nico Edgar, Joseph Wang, and Leo Doctorman won $1,000 for SmoothStop, a wheelchair brake that provides a safer, more comfortable stop for users riding downhill.

Michael said the win left him feeling excited about the project's future. "Competition night was the culmination of a serious amount of effort by me and the team, and seeing that effort pay off was gratifying," he said.

Bench to Bedside has been a seminar class at Rowland Hall since the 2016-2017 school year. Director of Curriculum and Instruction Wendell Thomas and Upper School Assistant Principal Dave Samson joined the SmoothStop team at the Utah Capitol for competition night, and applauded their work. "They represented Rowland Hall exceptionally well," Mr. Samson said.

According to the seniors, current wheelchair braking systems are unreliable at high speeds and can thus lead to user injury. The team learned about this problem during Bench to Bedside's physician reverse-pitch night October 18.

SmoothStop, pictured below, is a simple add-on for a wheelchair—its manual disc brake is similar to a bicycle's hand brake—and it would cost one-third the price of a competing device. It allows users to access variable braking pressure, which gives greater control over the speed of their descent on a slope.

Michael said the team is evaluating how to use their $1,000 prize. They may put the funds toward visiting potential manufacturers and clients, and improving their prototype for increased durability, easier installation, and cost-effectiveness.

STEM

Encouraging Students to Embrace the Identity of a Scientist

Last fall, Rowland Hall first graders tackled a mystery in the science lab: how could two islands on either side of the world have the same tree growing on them? As part of a unit on seeds and trees, students suggested an explanation for this phenomenon, and then followed clues to determine whether their explanation was plausible. Carly Biedul—who served as the long-term science substitute teacher during Kirsten Walker's maternity leave and continues to teach the first- and second-grade science labs—was impressed with the students' engagement. "It was awesome to see how the first graders kept changing their answer the more and more they learned about seeds," she said. She explained that this lesson taught students about more than seed dispersal: it showed them that it's okay if your first answer to a problem is wrong because scientific study entails gathering evidence and then refining your answer based on what you learn.

Over the past four years, Rowland Hall has been examining and refining the ways we teach science, largely in service of the Strategic Plan's second goal: provide the Intermountain West's most outstanding math and science program. While division-specific and developmentally appropriate, these curricular changes all have one thing in common: students are spending more time in class—and hopefully outside class too—engaging in the behaviors of science. They are conducting more lab experiments, which involve asking questions, making observations, collecting data, and forming and revising arguments. Teachers are often using the universal framework of claim-evidence-reasoning to guide their lessons, which fosters the kind of critical thinking that students can apply in any field.

In kindergarten through eighth grade, Rowland Hall's science curriculum now aligns with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which emphasize inquiry-based learning and making connections across scientific domains. The vision outlined in the NGSS is one where students are empowered to lead their own scientific discoveries, and sixth-grade science teacher Molly Lewis wholeheartedly supports it.

"Kids are the scientists now," she said, "and teachers are the facilitators." Whether directing a lab experiment about human vision—having students identify the limitations of their eyesight in certain circumstances, such as a dark room—or exploring the relationship between the form and function of red blood cells, Ms. Lewis is happy to let the students take risks and posit theories that might initially be ill-founded. "We're giving them meaningful context instead of just abstract ideas, and then teaching them the skills necessary to discover what's true or what they can prove."

In the Middle School and the Lower School, phenomena—like the trees and their traveling seeds, or fossils found in sedimentary rocks—are being used to draw students into the practice of inquiry. The Lower School also has several new units that integrate science and literacy, laying the groundwork for more in-depth experiments in the science lab. The Beginning School, meanwhile, builds foundational skills with activities such as daffodil painting and dissection.

For Upper School Science Department Chair Alisa Poppen, the skills and concepts learned through lab work are essential, and her department recently acquired some new sensors and probes necessary for proper data collection. Echoing Ms. Lewis, Ms. Poppen said, "We are using labs to build models rather than simply confirm ideas. We are focused on the behaviors of scientists, and understanding that science is not a collection of facts but rather a series of practices."

While the Upper School curriculum is focused on moving toward lab-based Advanced Topics courses—rather than using the NGSS as their guide—Ms. Poppen is thrilled at the prospect of students entering ninth-grade science with an excellent foundation in the claim-evidence-reasoning framework. Furthermore, she sees additional lab time creating an upswing in student engagement, much like Ms. Biedul observed in first grade.

Teachers and administrators will continue to observe how students perform in science classrooms—and, like good scientists, they will refine their practices based on the data they collect. Ultimately, Rowland Hall remains committed to providing students with the best possible learning experience. New Middle School science teacher Melissa Sharp hopes that by increasing students' enthusiasm for science, their learning experience will carry over into after-school hours too. "I want them to get into the car and ask their parents about genetics, and say, 'Mom, let me see your thumb!'" she said. "Or they might watch football and think about concussions, wondering what is happening in terms of neuroscience."

What it boils down to for everyone teaching science at Rowland Hall, including Ms. Sharp: "I want students to embrace the identity of a scientist."

STEM

 

Meet Marcus Milling and Melissa Sharp, New Science Faculty

Last fall, Rowland Hall welcomed two new members of our science faculty: Upper School chemistry teacher Marcus Milling and Middle School science teacher Melissa Sharp. Both science educators—who are also married—have been teaching in the United States and abroad for the past 20 years, most recently at the Lincoln Community School in Accra, Ghana. Ms. Sharp, who grew up in central New York, considers herself lucky to have taught in diverse educational settings. "Each opportunity has allowed me to question my perspective, think deeply about humanity, and ask again and again why I do what I do as an educator," she said.

Mr. Milling first began teaching in graduate school, and once he realized how much he enjoyed helping students, the path ahead seemed clear. "Physics and chemistry are the studies of the fundamental mechanisms of how our universe operates, from the large-scale study of galaxies to the small-scale examination of electrical circuits," he said. "What could be better than understanding how these things work and helping others to understand?" Mr. Milling and Ms. Sharp taught together for 11 years at The Bishop's School in La Jolla, California, where in addition to developing and implementing innovative curriculum, she served on the Global Education Committee and he coached a winning physics bowl team.

 

Their passion for science—and teaching young minds to think critically, support claims with evidence, and make connections that alter their worldviews—is undisputed. According to Ms. Sharp, "cultivating curiosity is the cornerstone of being a lifelong learner," and the science classroom provides an ideal environment for curiosity every day. She and Mr. Milling were drawn to Rowland Hall for the opportunity to grow our science program. Though they both agree that resources, namely time and funding, present a challenge to developing a first-rate science lab program, they are more than ready to advocate for an improved student experience.

"Experiments are the heart of science," Mr. Milling said. "They provide the evidence, and are how we test our ideas, and determine what is true and what is not true." While the Upper School science program recently acquired some new equipment for its laboratory sessions, he believes that changes to the curriculum—including offering Advanced Topics courses in chemistry and other subjects—will be key to ensuring that students are receiving the best science education possible.

 

For now, Ms. Sharp and Mr. Milling are busy adjusting to the shifting trimester schedule at Rowland Hall, taking advantage of outdoor-recreation opportunities, and building relationships with their new colleagues. "Collaborating effectively with my new community members is an integral part of my professional journey," Ms. Sharp said.

To that end, let's welcome them once again to Rowland Hall. We are thankful their professional journeys brought them here.

People

 

Aviation Curriculum and Culture Takes Off Under Direction of Retired Navy Pilot

Pilots have the greatest office in the world. It's one of the simple-yet-effective pitches from Middle School teacher Bill Tatomer to pique interest in aviation.

At Rowland Hall, interests are piqued. Middle schoolers pack Mr. Tatomer's aviation electives. Upper schoolers recently started a lively Aviation Club. One recent alumnus—Davis Kahler '17—is studying at Westminster College to become a pilot, and some current students want to follow suit.

Mr. Tatomer's matter-of-fact passion for aviation helps to sell the subject. Beyond the incredible view from the "office," flying is just fun, the retired US Navy pilot said. "You're flying different profiles with different people, seeing different places," he said. "The dynamic environment made for a wonderful profession." Even his old uniform, a green flight suit, still brings him joy. "I miss wearing this pretty much every day because it's so darn comfortable," he said on Halloween, clad in the coveralls as an easily accessible costume.

Mr. Tatomer flew planes in the Navy for 22 years before retiring in 2007. Like so many former military pilots, he planned to become a commercial airline pilot. But he sought to reverse his career trend of spending about 40% of his time away from his two daughters and wife Linda, now the Lower School specialty principal. After Mr. Tatomer's final military tour in Hawaii, the family returned to Bill and Linda's former home of Salt Lake City. Mr. Tatomer landed a coaching job at Rowland Hall while he waited to interview with the airlines. Then, former Middle School Principal Stephen Bennhoff offered him a long-term maternity substitute position for seventh-grade world studies teacher Margot Miller. "I got into the class setting with the kids, and just fell in love," he said. He subsequently canceled scheduled interviews with Southwest and FedEx, and now celebrates 10 years in our classrooms.

Within two years of his Rowland Hall tenure, Mr. Tatomer convinced Mr. Bennhoff to let him teach a six-week aviation elective. From there, the curriculum grew: he now teaches three six-week intro classes, a six-week flight design class, and a trimester advanced flight class.

The intro class covers topics such as professions in aviation, aerodynamics, and Bernoulli's principle. In flight design, students learn about the aircraft engineering process and design one of their own prototype airplanes, guided by constraints such as size, materials, and flight distance. In the advanced course—an abbreviated Federal Aviation Administration ground-school class—students learn pilotage using simulators, and as a capstone activity actually pilot a real flight with instructors from Westminster College, Mr. Tatomer's alma mater.

 

Bill Tatomer with students and planes

↑ During a field trip to the Westminster College Flight Center, located in the southeast corner of the Salt Lake City International Airport, Bill Tatomer fist-bumps a Middle School aviation student after she correctly answered a question.

As classes expanded, so did corresponding equipment in Mr. Tatomer's classroom: he now has four flight simulators thanks to ongoing tech help from Lincoln Street Campus Network Manager Nick Banyard, and general program support from current Principal Tyler Fonarow. When practicing on the so-called sims, students reference flight checklists straight from the Westminster program. Mr. Tatomer serves as air traffic controller. Sims are linked so students can see each other taxiing out, flying on their assigned mission profile, and following the aircraft landing pattern. A deer might show up on the runway, and birds might hit the plane mid-flight. "The realism is incredible," Mr. Tatomer said.

The aviation curriculum aligns with our commitment to experiential education, and with our Strategic Plan goal of providing the region's most outstanding math and science program. "From metereology to aerodynamics to flight physiology, there are so many STEM applications," Mr. Tatomer said. "Every class is STEM based."

Junior Ned Friedman, president of the Aviation Club and an aspiring Air Force pilot, agreed. For the past couple of years, he's attended summer camp to fly gliders and has learned, for example, about aircraft engineering and how weather—especially wind—affects the physics of flight. Ned didn't attend Rowland Hall's Middle School, but commended Mr. Tatomer for his infectious love of the subject, and for serving as faculty liaison for the Aviation Club and connecting that group with Westminster's myriad aviation resources.

Sophomore Sophie DuBois, club vice president, loved taking Mr. Tatomer's beginning and advanced aviation classes, and especially loved flying from Salt Lake to Heber in the latter class. Now, she said unequivocally, "I want to be a pilot."

"That's why Rowland Hall is so great," she said. "We can have experiences like this that not a lot of other schools, at least locally, are able to offer," Sophie said. Mr. Tatomer, she added, was her favorite eighth-grade teacher. He's inclusive and tries to get everyone interested in what he's teaching. The Utah Air Force Association agrees: in May, they named him Chapter 236 (Southern Utah) Secondary Teacher of the Year.

In addition to dovetailing with our Strategic Plan, the rise of aviation at Rowland Hall coincides with a national pilot shortage. To curtail that shortage, the industry could encourage more women to join the field, since they comprise just 5% of pilots. Westminster is doing a bit better: there, the percentage of women in the aviation program is about thrice that, according to Aviation Admissions Counselor Stacie Whitford, one of Mr. Tatomer's main Westminster liaisons. The retired Navy commander is doing his part to close the gender gap—Sophie said he recruited plenty of girls for her Middle School classes. The teacher hopes to continue building on our school's partnership with Westminster, and sending them aviation students, especially young women.

Upper schoolers who want to advance in their aviation studies can do so through a Westminster course for high schoolers that runs January through April, and through a new Rowland Hall Interim trip that condenses Westminster's aviation summer camp into five days. Plus, the roughly 15-member Aviation Club meets 9:20 am Tuesdays in Mr. Tatomer's room, MS 203. In addition to educational trips after school or on weekends, the group is diving into community service. Through December 8, they're collecting donated toys, school supplies, clothes, and more for Angel Flight West's Utah Santa Flight, which will bring the items to students at a title 1 school in Roosevelt, Utah.

 

Experiential Learning

 
Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Students Apply Science Studies in Internships

 

Alumnus Nick Fontaine '17 learned skills as a senior in Alisa Poppen's AP Biology class that, a few months later, helped him research the rare and deadly ebola virus as an intern with the Kay Lab in the University of Utah's Department of Biochemistry.

"It has been an amazing experience," the Rowmark Ski Academy postgraduate athlete said just halfway through his Kay Lab experience. "I've already learned so much about different research procedures and how professional labs operate."

Nick worked as a Kay Lab intern five days a week August 15 through November 8, and credited his alma mater for helping him hit the ground running: "Rowland Hall provided me with a strong foundation that enabled me to deeply explore specific concepts within a professional lab." In AP Biology, Nick learned about different types of inhibitors and how they affect enzymatic activity—knowledge that helped him explore the function of ebola inhibitors and their medical applications. And in AP Chemistry, he had to design his own experimental procedures for so-called inquiry labs: "This helped prepare me for the Kay Lab, where I had to creatively adapt my experiment to find the most effective inhibitor of the ebola virus." Nick plans to attend college in fall 2018 and said his internship has motivated him to stick with STEM and, in the more distant future, pursue a graduate degree.

The Upper School's innovative career-internship program, now in its fourth year, encourages students to ground their classroom learning in their out-of-school experiences. Students in grades ten through twelve can intern in a variety of fields, but stints in the science world have been especially popular and effective, according to internship coordinator Laura Johnson. Science Department Chair Ms. Poppen agreed. She lauded the program for giving our students opportunities to engage with science at an advanced level. Our students, in turn, prove they're prepared for such rigorous work, she said.

Internship mentors celebrate Rowland Hall students' competence and preparation. This past summer, junior Rob Welt interned with Dr. Michael Chardack, an orthopedic surgeon for Intermountain Healthcare. "Rob was alway cordial, friendly, and interested," Dr. Chardack said. "I am always amazed to see how well students at Rowland Hall are prepared to portray themselves in situations that are unfamiliar and require advanced psychosocial skills."

Rowland Hall primes students to be nimble in new contexts: our science department has made real-world applications of classroom concepts a central focus while implementing Goal 2 of the Strategic Plan. In Ms. Poppen's AP Biology class this year, for example, students will amplify their own DNA in order to determine which form of a gene they carry. That project and others like it help students learn standard lab techniques, such as micropipetting and running a gel.

Citizen-science projects also help students see real-world applications of subjects, and help them retain what they learn in class. In Anni Schneider's environmental science class, upper schoolers learned about Red Butte Creek and how to conduct water-quality tests. Then on Half Day Whole Heart October 11, they led a citizen-science day at the creek for our sixth graders. In Rob Wilson's ninth-grade biology class, students engage in a number of citizen-science projects, including through the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and its eBird program, the USA National Phenology Network, and Utah State University's Water Watch program. Mr. Wilson's students also collaborate with students in Brian Birchler's statistics class to complete genetics projects on plants. And there's the sage-grouse field study, which Mr. Wilson said exposes our students to a kind of scientific work often denied to high schoolers due to time and travel expenses.

Our summer 2017 student-interns cite multiple instances when their Rowland Hall education helped to elevate their internship experiences.

Senior Sidney Hare said the general academic habits she's learned at Rowland Hall made her successful in her work with conservation biologist JJ Horns. "The lack of fear to ask even the simplest of questions" helped her make the most of the opportunity, Sidney said.

"At Rowland Hall, the teachers accept and want you to ask questions," she added. "It was the skill that helped me get even more out of my experience at my internship."

Junior Celia Davis spent 35 hours per week for a month at Cytozyme Laboratories, a supplier of products and nutritional concepts for agricultural and animal production. She said her knowledge of chemical names and polyatomic ions from chemistry class made her more efficient in day-to-day lab procedures.

Several student-interns cited the relevance of our biology curriculum to their work. Avenues Pet Clinic intern Claire Hyde, a junior, located dividing cells in a urine sample based on her ninth-grade study of mitosis. And as an intern at The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital (TOSH), senior Youssef Salama built on his learnings from AP Biology when he monitored a cyclist for a VO2 max study, a trial measuring the maximum volume of oxygen that an athlete can use. While the cyclist pedaled, Youssef looked at computer data that showed exactly when the athlete's body switched from aerobic to anaerobic respiration, a topic he'd studied in detail. TOSH then used the data to help the cyclist maximize training. Youssef called the trial a great experience with a concrete connection to his classroom learning.

Junior Sydney Young studied dominant and recessive genes in Mr. Wilson's class, so during her internship with gastroenterologist Holly Clark, Sydney better understood why genetics might cause Crohn's disease. She asked Dr. Clark why the disease, which has a genetic component, often doesn't become symptomatic until later in life. Dr. Clark explained that's a question biologists are working to understand, and Sydney was fascinated to be able to connect her high school biology studies with current industry research.

From forests to hospitals, Rowland Hall student-interns take their classroom learning into the world and prove that application of concepts leads to mastery. Or, in Youssef's words, "This will definitely be something I am going to remember for a long time going forward." That's precisely the point.

To take part in the internship program or learn more about it, contact internship coordinator Laura Johnson at laurajohnson@rowlandhall.org. Read about one student's internship experience in her own words in this November 2016 Fine Print article.

STEM

 

You Belong at Rowland Hall