SMART kids

Giving students a real-world experience in the science field, Montoursville Area High School recently began a SMART Team for students interested in working on research projects alongside those currently working in science.

Karen Avery, biology high school teacher, explained that after she took part in a teacher summer program at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, creating a SMART Team, Students Modeling A Research Topic, was the next step.

“That was amazing. I was there with about 25 teachers from all around the continent. And they were teachers who were really excited about biology and teaching,” Avery said of the summer program.

The students who join the club will be given an opportunity to work with researchers, such as those at Bucknell University, to look at proteins.

“They will basically be telling the story of this protein. For instance, what do we know about it, how do we know that about it?” Avery explained.

After doing their research, the team also could have the opportunity to use software to build a model of the protein.

And depending on how the team performs, a poster presentation at a research conference also is a possibility, Avery explained.

“If we can get them to New York City to a research conference, it’s going to be a huge opportunity,” she said.

Avery said the students in the club come from different backgrounds and interests, not merely science

Working with Dr. Charles Clapp, chemistry professor at Bucknell and primary investigator for the team, is a unique opportunity for students, Avery said.

“It’s very big. They’re going to be working with Dr. Clapp throughout the year,” Avery said.

But as Avery explained, the chance to form a SMART Team at Montoursville almost slipped right by Avery.

As she explained, she wasn’t sure if she was going to submit an application to become a SMART Team, but then was convinced by a former student.

“Very fortunately I ran into one of my (former students) at Starbucks. I was filling out the SMART Team’s application and I was kind of waffling should I do it or not?” Avery said.

But after talking to the now-Bucknell student, Avery was convinced to put together the club.

And now students will be able to work alongside with real-world research.

“It’s a huge opportunity because Dr. Clapp is allowing us to visit him. So we will see what an actual research lab looks like,” Avery said.

“Kids will be presenting their research alongside other researchers,” she later added.