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
Every spring, Milton’s annual Science Symposium showcases advanced science students’ DYO (Design Your Own) experiments. For students enrolled in Advanced Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Environmental Science, presenting independent projects they have pursued over several weeks is their culminating achievement. Students, working as individual or group investigators, structure and conduct experiments that explore major areas of science and a range of diverse interests. The scientists design and present posters of their work, and talk with faculty, friends and parents about their processes and outcomes. Topics have examined using fluorescent dyes to detect heavy metal pollution in water; turning sound into a laser show; and applying the Magnus effect to the flight of a baseball.
Other recent research have included:
- Effect of pH on bacterial viruses
- The “bitter taste” gene DNA
- Effect of copper and magnesium on plant growth
- Zebrafish tail regeneration
- Young’s double-slit experiment
- A Faraday train model
I’m doing an engineering project right now. We got to pick a topic in engineering problems, which are like the really big problems of the world, such as climate change or water pollution. We were given all the materials and access to everything. You get to design anything, and the entire science lab has thousands of different materials and random stuff you can use. We received help, but it was a lot more independent.