What is research? It's commonly referred as a systematic process to discover or rediscover new truths about our world. Outcomes of research extend boundaries of knowledge and engineering to advance what's possible. Research often has a social dimension—how to improve humanity. Research on medicine, the environment, and improve humanity. Research on medicine, the environment, and energy are noble causes to shape policy, technology, and the economy to improve our quality of life. I saw it's more, particularly for the development of high schoolers. Research is also an enduring process to discover truths about how to cope with thresholds and limitations. This is important to TJ students who have rarely faced obstacles in their academic careers. It's really a journey with many crossroads, designed to challenge limits and offer gateways of opportunity.
The science and technology elective sequence at our school through 14 different pathways is designed for students to face uncertainty, either based on rigor, unfamiliarity, or inability to solve a complex problem. Through this uncertainty, students cope with the potential to fail. That is their greatest learning opportunity as they are pushed out of their comfort zone. With teachers and peers as mentors and collaborators, students begin to realize they can develop comfort with their uncertainty through a systematic process known as research (or engineering).
Midway through the junior year, students propose potential research projects stemming from their curiosity and work explored through their electives and/or previous projects. The research question is very personal based on tackling a challenge that is feasible over the course of senior year. Since students have taken different pathways leading up through the junior year, the project vary tremendously based on interest and readiness. There isn't such a best project to choose, but rather one to create that will adequately challenge the individual student to a state of uncertainty. One of which they need to tackle, experience drawbacks, obtain feedback, and persevere to an improved outcome.
Upon selection of the project, a good senior year research experience will test students' limits and maintain their belief new boundaries can be broken. Careful review of the literature defines feasible areas of exploration, and the question defines the journey—it's rigor, risk taking, and relevance to humanity. Hundreds of senior research projects are created each year at TJ, testing our students' limits. Teknos is an introduction to some of those research projects, along with essays from students reflecting on interesting problems that can be addressed with science and technology solutions.
When I read Teknos, I like to think about why the student decided to conduct their project to learn about their crossroads. Then I like to ask them about where they struggled, or even failed, to see if they tested and persevered through their limits. Research is a systematic process that will help students answer unknown questions, and perhaps even more importantly, the research journey provides the disposition to continue to push through boundaries no matter what challenges students face in the future.
I hope you enjoy this year's edition of Teknos to learn about the outcomes of some of our students' pathway of discovery.