This week, our Middle School and Upper School students presented their research projects to our community. Through poster sessions, the Upper School WISE (Women In Science and Engineering), ACE (Architecture, Science and Engineering) and Gateway Scholars students and Middle School Independent Research students fielded questions and got to share their findings with parents, faculty and staff and fellow students.

"It is truly inspiring to see the culmination of months of hard work on display for the community, and I am consistently impressed with how thorough, creative and thoughtful our students are," said Head of School Chris Hughes. "Whether it's a Middle School student creating her own shampoo or Upper Schoolers doing hands-on work alongside a Johns Hopkins researcher or working together to design a veterinary clinic, these students have learned important skills that far transcend the classroom. I'm so proud of our students for demonstrating our Core Value of Be Curious in their endeavors -- and also demonstrating our Core Value of Be Brave, as they present their work to their peers, families, faculty and our entire community."

Andrea Perry, Director of the James Center and Dean of Special Programs and coordinator for WISE and ACE, echoed those sentiments: "The significant work of WISE students, Middle Schoolers conducting independent inquiry,  ACE Mentor Program participants, and senior Gateway Scholars, on display in this week's Poster Session, showcased the diverse and impressive results of student-driven research. Their efforts required curiosity, critical thinking, creativity, problem-solving, collaboration, and perseverance. In undertaking independent research on complex, long-term projects, they've built skills and habits of mind they can continue to practice, in their years at GFS, in university study, and beyond. The world needs women with these tools and the confidence to use them; these Garrison girls are ready for what's next."

Read more about each program below!

WISE (Women In Science and Engineering)

The Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program is a long-standing partnership between Garrison Forest School and Johns Hopkins University.  The 20 students enrolled in the program for the 2022-23 school year worked in hands-on research settings at Johns Hopkins University for 15 weeks from late September through January, and from late January through May, traveling twice a week to be hosted by faculty in the Whiting School of Engineering, the Krieger School of Arts & Sciences and the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Close to 300 Garrison Forest students have participated in WISE since its inception in 2005, with over 125 Johns Hopkins University faculty serving as mentors to students. Direct mentoring is most often provided by graduate students, post doctoral students and research scientists.

WISE students receive academic credit at GFS for their work. To capture their hands-on learning, they keep a weekly journal, interview their mentors and prepare and offer a presentation to fellow students at GFS and their mentors at the program's conclusion; they also share their experiences with the Garrison Forest community at the annual WISE poster session in May. 

This program introduces students to the generative research process at a world-class research university and supports them in developing skills and habits of mind they can bring to university study and beyond; WISE is, in essence, a lab for life.

ACE (Architecture, Construction and Engineering)

(Top photo: The final presentation board created by ACE students; bottom photo: Some of this year's ACE participants at Presentation Night. Left to right are Caysie J. '24, ACE co-coordinator Elizabeth Almeter, Erika S. '24, Emine L. '24, Olivia F. '26, Chelsea K. '26, Vivian A. '25, ACE co-coordinator Andrea Perry, Abby M. '24, and Jaydn L. '25)

The ACE program objective is to give students an opportunity to explore career possibilities in the building professions by completing a mock design project that mirrors real-world design challenges. The program is approximately 15 weeks long, with the teams meeting once a week for a couple of hours. The students learn the entire design, engineering and construction process along with considering such factors as a tight urban setting; the surrounding environments; potential historic and cultural areas; and the need to serve broad commercial and economic interests. Each team is set up to emulate an actual design team, with students guided through their project by their architect, engineer, construction management and tradesperson mentors.

To arrive at a solution, the students perform programming exercises that help them determine the building’s function and appearance. Then, they do sketches, pinups and other tasks to simulate and clarify ideas and concepts. While the immediate result is a series of imaginative project solutions, the long-term benefit to team members is a practical understanding of how building industry teams realize their “big” ideas.

The ACE program in Baltimore includes 14 multi-disciplinary teams with over 150 students from fifteen local schools across Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Howard County who compete against each other, with their completed projects, at Presentation Night, the culmination of the program. Garrison Forest was recognized, at Presentation Night, as the winner of the "Interior Design and Client Experience" aspect of the project. Twenty-four students participated over the 15 weeks of the program, guided by mentors from Gensler & Associates, an international architecture/design firm with a Baltimore office.

Gateway Scholars: Global Citizenship

Shyne C. '23 presents her Gateway Scholars project

The Gateway Scholars Program provides unique opportunities for Upper School students with a special interest in Global Citizenship, STEM or Visual Art and Design to craft a distinct curricular and co-curricular path. Supported by a network of on- and off-campus mentors, each Gateway Scholar creates an immersive learning program designed to challenge them, enrich their experience, deepen their understanding and document their process of discovery.

Shyne C. '23 completed the Global Citizenship track; view her project here. About her project, Shyne said, "Being a Gateway Scholar focused on Global Citizenship has taught me so much. This website is a culmination of my three years in the program and showcases my growth as not only a student but a contributing citizen. The biggest takeaway I have from this project is my own definition of a global citizen: someone that devotes their life to learning for the better of others. This could mean learning about sexuality, other cultures and so much more. Learning and being open-minded is the key to being a true global citizen."

Middle School Independent Research Projects

What causes video games to glitch, and what makes shampoo effective? These were just a few of the topics Middle Schoolers shared more about during the Independent Research Symposium. Guided by program mentor and Middle School science teacher Nedria Walker, students opted to participate in this year-long project. They began by identifying a topic of interest, then conducted research and sometimes experiments, and then, finally, presented them during their poster session. The goal of the program was to give students a sense of the research process while giving them autonomy to investigate topics that were of interest to them. They also learned about refining their findings as the project went along, working through challenges, and publicly presenting their projects.