Learning by Doing, Always

Humans have a natural excitement about scientific exploration, about how the world works. At Milton, we fuel that spirit of inquiry—and teach sophisticated concepts and research skills—by doing science, from day one. Introducing students to foundational scientific concepts and laboratory techniques, we provide the tools, shifting, over time, from teacher-directed learning to student-driven discovery. Students formulate their own research questions based on what they’ve learned; they develop experiments to test these questions—gathering evidence, analyzing data, communicating findings, and discovering the next round of important questions that rise from that work.

Through this work, students learn to deconstruct a problem, formulate a plan, observe closely, identify what they don’t know. They develop the skills and confidence to execute intricate and complex research experiments that help them develop scientific knowledge and understanding that builds as they progress through the program—from Physics to Chemistry to Biology, and to advanced electives in Molecular Genetics, Organic Chemistry and Nuclear Physics.

Milton scientists bring their skills to bear in the favorite “DYO” (Design Your Own) research experiment, the culmination of all full-year courses in the science curriculum. Students in advanced electives hone their presentation skills in the annual Science Symposium—a showcase of capstone projects, that invites the entire School community to appreciate and understand the focus and work of Milton’s most accomplished science students.

From the Classroom

Science Symposium

Every spring, Milton’s annual Science Symposium showcases advanced science students and the DYO (Design Your Own) experiments. For students enrolled in advanced biology, chemistry, physics and environmental science, discussing independent projects that they’ve pursued over several weeks is their culminating work. Students, working as individual or group investigators, structure and conduct experiments that explore major areas of science and diverse hypotheses. The scientists develop posters describing their work, and talk with faculty, friends and parents about their processes and outcomes. Topics range from road-salt runoff in a local brook to the physics of ocean waves, from the effect of carbon dioxide on mung bean germination to the effect of changing frequencies on a cornstarch concentration.

Topics from the last year’s symposium included:

Fin regeneration in zebrafish

RNAi in Planaria

Yeast fermentation and the Crabtree Effect

Oysters as a possible bioremediation technique in coastal waters

Effects of mycorrhizal fungi on plant growth

Thin film interference: colors in soap bubbles

Effect of sound viscosity of Oobleck

Effect of monosodium phosphate concentration on the corrosion rate of iron

Effect of varying concentration of a cerium IV cross-linker on the conductivity and drug delivery of an alginate hydrogel

One day, walking into the Pritzker Science Center, I saw two of my friends in Mr. Bean’s lab. They were discussing an independent biology project. Mr. Bean knew I was interested in science and casually asked me if I wanted to be involved. So I found myself learning how to take care of zebrafish—breeding them and studying their genetic traits. What a great and unexpected experience to have as a freshman. It only increased my love of science.

Iladro Sauls

Somerville, Massachusetts