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Fall 2016

If your student is interested in a course that’s out of grade level, just give us a call, and we can talk you though the options. A few labs (like Pathenogenic Microbiology) require a specific foundational knowledge. Conversely, there might be a lab listed for 7th-8th that could feel too introductory for an older student. We’re happy to chat with you about it!

Recommended for Grades 7-8

Investigating Criminal Law – Kimberly Goins, J.D.

Students in this class will consider the complex and ever-changing facets of criminal law. You will learn about basic legal rules and concepts (like the difference between robbery and burglary), variations in criminal defense strategies, rules for evidence, and court procedures. You can look forward to fascinating discussions about controversial topics, real court cases, and a taste of debate through mock trial. While we won’t administer the bar exam, by the end of this class you will know a bit more about the practice of law and what it means to think like a lawyer. Business attire not required.

Psychology of Memory – Chris Jaeger

In many ways we are defined by our memory, which is why memory and psychology are inextricably linked. This class will provide an introduction to how memory functions in the brain and how scientists are able to study it. After examining a number of famous experiments, you will design and run your own experiments in a team-based environment. Then, as time allows, you will use the same format and tools as professional researchers to write-up and present your findings. After a day in a psychologist’s shoes, your understanding of memory could be altered forever.

Animal Movement and Landscape Ecology – Jennifer Bradham

Humans require an incredible amount of natural resources to persist, often at the expense of the local environment. Here we will investigate how humans and their animal counterparts coexist to sustainably utilize the land. In a laboratory environment, you will access techniques and tools ecologists use to understand the ways animals utilize their fragmented habitats. You will learn how to measure and quantify a forest landscape, analyze your data, and run computer models to postulate the effects of land-use on the long-term stability of these ecosystems. Time allowing, you will have an opportunity to work on your own research question and practice the essential skill of presenting your scientific findings to a general audience.

Nuclear Containment Engineering – Janelle Branch

What to do with nuclear waste is a real and growing problem. In this lab, you will gain a basic understanding of how nuclear power works and the methods environmental engineers use to dispose of used nuclear materials. As budding engineers, you will design your own model containment structure, build it, and test it for stability and integrity using different analytical techniques. How do you dispose of something that could be harmful for centuries to come? Sand, soil, cement, and your own ingenuity! 

Recommended for Grades 9-10

Female Criminals in the 19th Century – Erica Hayden, Ph.D.

Historians are like detectives on the hunt to recover the voices of people who lived centuries ago. Archival sources provide the clues and evidence that lead researchers to fascinating interpretations and discoveries about the past.  In this course, students will engage with archival sources to learn about the experiences of female criminals in the 19th century United States. Together, we will examine the evidence found in the documents to understand how criminal women interacted with the legal and prison systems in the United States as well as participate in the historical research process and hone skills utilized by historians every day.

Pathenogenic Microbiology – Jen Gaddy, Ph.D.

This lab is for students who have a thorough understanding of cellular biology and are ready to take their knowledge to the next level. If that sounds like you, then don your safety goggles and put on your gloves, because you are about to get up close and personal with some bacteria (mild strains of course). Pathenogenic microbiology is the study of how bacteria interact with human cells. In this class, you will work in a Vanderbilt lab with a research scientist to gain a deeper understanding of how pathogens affect human health; you will learn what it takes to run a study; and you will see how professionals share what they have learned with each other. Classtime will consist of lecture, lab time, and practice writing and constructing a professional publication.

Genetic Epidemiology – Brittany Hollister

Vanderbilt University is at the forefront of the new Precision Medicine Initiative, a nationwide project to study the genomes of over 1 million people in order to better understand how diseases work in different populations. Students in this laboratory will get an introduction to how scientists make sense of all that information. Using some open-source statistical analysis software, and a bit of computer programming, you’ll participate in the tools and procedures epidemiologists are using to try to understand the relationships between genetic variants and human health. The next great breakthrough in human health may not happen inside a lab, but at a computer, maybe with you at the keyboard.


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