Information for Mentors
The Philosophy of the Program
It is our belief that America needs a greater number of PhD and advanced degree candidates in order to remain competitive in the sciences. The Dr. Robert Pavlica Authentic Science Research Program is designed to encourage and nurture original and creative thinking in the sciences while students are still at the high school level.
The three year spiraling course is directed towards those students who wish to pursue excellence and progress into advanced areas of study. Emphasis is on both laboratory and bibliographic research, as well as on fostering personal responsibility.
Students are taught the process of literature review and are able to access scientific databases. Group seminars and individual consultations with three certified teachers, as well as with doctoral level scholars, are arranged by the student as needed. Student commitment to long-term focused research, demonstrating initiative, perseverance and creativity, is developed and fostered.
Students give presentations of their ongoing work and findings to their class, their school district, and at regional, statewide, and national symposia, including the Regeneron Science Talent Search, the International Science and Engineering Fair as well as the Google Science Fair. During senior year, each student prepares numerous drafts of a formal research paper, typically in their mentor’s style. Students are required to use APA format where applicable.
The Role of the Mentor
~ Mentor involvement during the sophomore year is to guide the student through the literature by providing and/or suggesting appropriate professional journal readings. Students have access to several online databases at our high school, and mentors often provide examples of their own work for the student to study.
~ In whatever manner works best (e-mail, telephone, videoconference, or in person) mentors and students dialog together about relevant concepts and ideas. It is the student's responsibility to actively work to master the topic knowledge. Our students have an outstanding record in this regard.
~ In their research class, students may study IRB regulations, HIPPA requirements, statistical testing, APA formatting. In addition, they participate in presentations of data and literature review through PowerPoint, intensive writing assignments, lab techniques, etc., depending in part upon what the student and mentor deem most relevant.
~ As the student demonstrates competence, mentors often invite students to assist in the laboratory setting either during the year or over the summer. In some situations (e.g., in the case of archival data, in-silico studies or big data analysis), students may work with the mentor remotely. While local mentoring is obviously advantageous, we have had students successfully travel both nationwide and internationally to work with mentors in the field when appropriate. In this case, mentors often suggest housing possibilities, while students are responsible for following through with all arrangements. Students do not expect to be paid.
~ When the mentor feels that the student is ready (or by midyear), the student is required to consolidate what they have learned into null and working hypotheses, and detail an experimental design. The mentor and student decide together on whether this will be a part of the mentor's ongoing research or an independent project. The experiment can begin at any time, but needs to be completed by August before senior year.
~ Project limitations: studies with human subjects must be deemed "minimal risk" by an Institutional Review Board. Vertebrate animal projects and the use of human tissues are regulated. We generally follow the Regeneron Science Talent Search Research Guidelines (pages 5-8).
~ Students write a complete paper based upon their work, following the general style of their mentor, utilizing APA format.
~ Mentors are involved in the editing process, and are asked to submit a brief summary of their perspective on the student's work in the early autumn of senior year.
~ All students are required to submit this paper to the Regeneron Science Talent Search in mid-November of their senior year. Students also present their work as a poster later that spring at the Westchester Science and Engineering Fair. There are additional competitions that students may entire and several students have presented at professional conferences including the American Academy of Neurology, the American Astronomical Society and the American Camping Association.
We understand that as a researcher your time is extremely valuable and we promise that our students will work diligently with you. We teach a strong work ethic, and our students have the reputation of becoming genuine assets to their mentors. We have had numerous students published while still in high school, and a very large percentage of our research students have gone on to receive advanced degrees. Feedback from professors who have worked with our students has been overwhelmingly positive.
We welcome all questions and comments!