Magnet Students Finalize Research in AP Capstone

When the students in the Magnet Program for Math and Science entered Morris Hills as confused and intimidated freshmen, they didn’t realize that the time in which they would conduct their very own research projects would arrive in a heartbeat. Today, all of the Magnet students are in the process of experimenting or gathering data, running statistical analyses or forming conclusions.

This advanced research project is a part of the recently introduced AP Capstone Program. The AP Capstone Program is divided into two sections: AP Seminar and AP Research. As juniors, students were required to take the AP Seminar course, in which they learned the methods of research and how to build arguments within their research. This year, as seniors, students are currently partaking in AP Research; they have been permitted to use all of the skills they have learned in the previous year to conduct their own, advanced independent research.  Mrs. McGrath teaches AP Research with Mrs. Tobler who describes it as “a class that helps students develop research skills.” She continues to explain, “Students engage in original research and write a 4000-5000 word paper.” Students have selected topics out of pure passion. Projects which are carried out properly may result in exciting discoveries that may change the world.

This year, topics that students have selected for their research range from STEM to Arts and Humanities. Methods of research varying from meta-analyses to experimental research to computational studies.

Senior Ruchi Shah is researching the issue of forced handedness, particularly the forced switching from left handedness to right handedness on brain structure. Ruchi hopes that if she is able to find a negative correlation between forced handedness and brain function, that it will teach the world the importance of allowing people to write with their natural hand.

Sonal Butala is taking the computational study route to her research project. She will be using the Java program to design a mathematical model that outputs an optimal encryption algorithm. Sonal’s model seeks to create a more efficient process for data encryption, or protection, which will ultimately improve global data security.

Meanwhile, Christine Connelly is conducting an experiment in which she will analyze the effect of pet ownership on the short-term memories of high school students. Christine has distributed over 100 surveys and examinations testing short-term abilities. Currently, she is searching for a correlation, and believes that this study will reflect how the short-term memories of students can be improved.

A slight problem in the advanced research project, however, is that students are still beginners in the vast field of research and are lacking a great amount of preparation. As one of the students stated, “At first, I felt that we were not sufficiently prepared to undertake such advanced research, especially since the gathering of data for certain topics may not be as realistic as it initially seems.” However, as the months progressed, students are starting to see their research projects come into shape. In fact, director of the program, Dr. Kevin Doyle, has stated, “We are very proud of the students and their work. We cannot wait to see their finished product.”

Currently, students are running statistical analyses and discussing their results. They are preparing for a presentation of their research in March. The Magnet students this year have great hopes and big dreams for their research. Who knows? Maybe they will change the world.