During the winter break, AP Research students were directed to conduct the research required for their upcoming 5000-word research paper. Under the direction of Peter Beckway and Michael Silber, AP Capstone teachers, Samuel Hopper, librarian, and other individual expert advisors, AP Research students have navigated the previous year’s AP Seminar course, as well as this year’s AP Research course, to acquire the necessary skills. With all of the learning done, the only thing left on the table for these students was to move forward with the research itself.
“These research skills will not only help me to better critically analyze any set of given information, but also give me the tools which I can use to investigate any topic that I am curious about,” Seungjun Kim (12) said. “These are essential skills in our daily lives, to live as a critical thinker and basically help guide us into finding that gap in the literature in which we can make our impact.”
AP Research is the second year of the overarching program, AP Capstone. Starting from AP Seminar, this program allows students to experience college-level research tasks that many students will face in the near future. After two years of thorough discussions and training, AP Research students are finally given the task to write their own unique research paper. In parallel to the IB program’s mandatory research paper, successfully completing AP Capstone will grant those students a diploma.
“I decided to conduct research on a possible correlation between personality and tendencies to take risks in an online poker game,” Minjei Park (12) said. “I chose this particular topic because my obsession for poker over the summer break drove me to feel passionate about researching poker. I tied poker and behavior together because I had always been curious to figure out what motivated different individuals. Hence, the desire to know how their intrinsic personalities may affect them.”
As they were given free rein over choosing areas to study, AP Research students’ research topics reflect diverse passions and dive into various fields. Academic curiosities and personal interests merge to develop topics unique for each student. With their research topics set, their positions from students simply reading academic sources have shifted into experts contributing to the scholarly conversation.
“I have two mentors – Mr. Koester, the AP Biology teacher, and a professional doctor at a university hospital,” Diane Lee (12) said. “Mr. Koester helped me to properly present my observations and conclusions to the audience in English. The doctor, as my second mentor, not only gave me access to his laboratory to conduct experiments, but also helped me to analyze the findings of my research.”
Given the extensiveness nature of the research that the students are tasked with, enthusiastic help came from the mentors. Their varying expertise provided the opportunity for the students to dive into greater depths of analysis and an expanded scope of knowledge. Students with researches necessitating quantitative research were provided with a corresponding work environment or tools to more easily conduct their researches. On the other hand, students conducting qualitative researches held extensive discussions with their mentors in order to analyze the given conclusion in the more unbiased method possible.
Although the research is not complete yet, AP Research students are nonetheless approaching their research topics with gritty passion and endless pursuits. Heaps of academic journals pile up beside them, but that is only the beginning.