King student Ben Persily ’23, placed fourth at the Connecticut Science & Engineering Fair (CSEF) in March for his research using stem cells and prime editing to study and correct the genetic mutations that cause cystic fibrosis. Ben’s accomplishment put him on the podium, standing out from over 600 students who participated in the state-wide fair. The success also meant that a student from King School would represent the Connecticut delegation at the International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF) for the first time.
Independent Study and Research Opportunities
The programs below build on content acquired within King’s curriculum to investigate topics or undertake projects that advance deeper and/or further than King’s formal course offerings. Guided by a mentor(s) from the appropriate academic department(s) - and sometimes by outside experts - students are responsible for the work and research required to master a topic and/or design and implement a project. Projects may be completely driven by an individual student’s interest or may be offered and directed by instructors working with small groups of students.
At King, we believe our students should see themselves as having the capacity to tackle real-world challenges with real-time research and solutions.
The ASPIRE course focuses on math and science research techniques, providing methods to help students further understand how research is conducted. In conjunction with the class, students attend an internship at an R01-level research laboratory to get hands-on experience in the field of modern scientific research.
Established in 2018 by Margharet, Frank, Bea '15 and William '17 Nash, the Advanced Mathematics and Science Study Program endowed fund supports select students with demonstrated ability and interest in achieving true excellence within science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics in global competition preparation, and/or laboratory research experiences.
Read all about the students who are involved in this program by viewing the “Research in Action” below.
If you’re a student who’s interested in applying for this program please contact Victoria Schulman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are interested in supporting this opportunity for students, please contact the development office to discuss how your gift can help.
As part of the ASPIRE program, working with a real laboratory and helping conduct original research while I am still in high school is beyond my wildest dreams. The future of DNA as a nanomaterial is as extensive as the combinations it can produce, and the opportunity to work with it is now steering my thoughts towards a career in molecular biology.
Billy Bernfeld '22
The Tom Main Liberal Arts Fellowship is a prestigious award honoring former Head of School, Tom Main. This annual summer research project is awarded to a team of two outstanding sophomore students who, working with a faculty mentor, will research, write, and present a paper on a liberal arts topic of major global interest. Proposals this year will focus either on climate change, the rise of nationalism, or healthcare models in developed countries. The project will include a trip abroad with the mentor for interviews and other research. Domestic travel may also be done. Each recipient of the Fellowship will receive $1,500 towards travel expenses incurred during the research.
If you’re a student interested in applying for this program, click here for the application.
Every student who graduates with a distinction must complete a capstone project. Students can graduate with distinctions in STEM, global education, leadership and world languages. The requirements to earn the distinction vary depending on the focus, but all of them include deep research with a presentation on a topic relating to their distinction. Some even include participation in a conference and/or internship. For detailed descriptions of our distinctions, please see our curriculum guide. Examples of past projects are included in the "Research in Action" section below.
The Upper School Science Fair was back in the gymnasium this year after a two-year pause. Upper school students in Honors Biology, Honors Chemistry, Honors Physics, and the ASPIRE program participated in two sessions held on May 12 to present their research to peers, faculty, family, and special guests.
“I love mentoring science fair projects for beginning students. Their excitement for trying new things is always refreshing. My favorite moments are when they shift from fear and nervousness about doing something new to excited and confident after they get results and realize it’s not that hard, and then they’ve learned a new skill,” said Director of Science Research Victoria Schulman.
A crowd of lower school students looked up in awe as a bottle rocket launched to near ceiling height at the Lower School Science Fair. Using a pressure pump, Ella Mendez ’29 and Ella McKee ’29 hypothesized that the more air pressure they added into a soda bottle, the higher the bottle will rocket upwards. The students learned that there were other variables that impact the height of the bottle such as its angle at launch and the force of gravity. The fair, which took place on April 28, presented new innovative ideas from the fifth grade class.
Six students from the Advanced Science Program for Independent Research and Engineering (ASPIRE) delayed their spring break plans to qualify for the final round of the 2022 Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair (CSEF). The effort proved to be worthwhile for the students, who advanced through higher levels of competition and brought home numerous awards from the event.
Ben Persily ’23 won several distinctions for his research exploring whether prime editing in stem cells could be used to correct the well-characterized mutation that causes cystic fibrosis. Among other awards, he earned one of only seven prestigious spots on the Connecticut delegation to the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF).
A group of upper school students participated in the 2022 Connecticut State STEM Fair, which took place virtually in early February. Students in the Advanced Science Program for Independent Research and Engineering (ASPIRE) presented their original research from their summer 2021 internships in professional laboratories in and around New York City. Additionally, four upper school students competed in the state fair after standing out at King School’s Science Fair last spring. Gouri Krishnan ’23 won first place in the Environmental Sciences category for her design of electrochromic color-changing window glass that changes color to keep heat energy in or out, depending on the season.
Juniors John Russell '22 and Giovanna Armetta '22 placed 2nd and 4th, respectively, in the 2021 Connecticut State STEM Fair (CT-STEM Fair) last weekend.
The CT-STEM Fair is a statewide science research competition that began in 2001 with a mission of providing students with an opportunity to present their research work to like-minded scientists and professionals who currently work in the field.
"As part of the ASPIRE program, working with a real laboratory and helping conduct original research while I am still in high school is beyond my wildest dreams," says Billy Bernfeld '22. Billy is one of nine King students in the Advanced Science Program for Independent Research and Engineering (ASPIRE) who has passed the preliminary round and has been selected to present at the CT/Regional Junior Science & Humanities Symposium.
The week-long fair was slated to occur on March 9-14 at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT, but the global coronavirus pandemic forced fair directors to convert the fair from a traditional in-person event to a virtual science fair for the students' safety. Collectively, King students had a Top 10 finisher in every category in which we competed and King School occupied 10% of the finalist positions – a truly impressive showing!
Ryan Heaton '21 earned second place in the Health & Medical category for his Computer Science-based cancer research project for which he wrote code and taught a computer to discern detailed differences between subtypes of renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer). Alex Lim '21 was chosen as a finalist for the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Specialty Award for his drone-based automated security system for schools and other brick-and-mortar establishments that will deter armed assailants without putting the human life of a security guard in harm's way.