JEI Mini-PhD Camp: Learning the Scientific Method from Hypothesis to Publication

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Update May 4, 2020

Due to COVID-19, the application deadline is extended to September 15th, 2020. Admissions are rolling, so please apply early to secure a spot.

Have you ever had a question, searched for an answer online, but couldn’t find it? We spend much of middle school and high school learning facts about science and math, so it might seem like we know everything about our world; however, in truth, we still don’t know a lot about how our universe works. But there is a solution: the scientific method can help answer any question you might have, from finding a cure to a disease to designing a rocket to Mars.

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By learning how to generate a hypothesis, design an experiment, and collect and analyze data, you can begin to search for the answers to the questions you’ve always had and help your community overcome its greatest challenges. Equally important, however, is the skill of communicating your findings to others. Sharing your experimental results not only provides answers to people who may have the same question in the future; it is also important for getting feedback from other scientists about how to improve your work.

We understand that your schooldays are full of classes, exams, and projects. But JEI wants to give students the opportunity to find the answers to the questions they’ve always been curious about. To learn the scientific method, JEI is running an eight-session program for 8th-10th graders in the local Boston area. Students will learn the entire process of performing an independent STEM project, from generating a testable research question and hypothesis to writing a manuscript for scientific publication. After generating a research question, students will work in teams to perform an experiment, collect and interpret data, and write a scientific manuscript with the guidance of Harvard graduate students. Additionally, students will learn about different opportunities in Boston to continue their STEM education, perform independent research, prepare for college applications, and learn about different STEM career options.

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After completing the program, students will have the knowledge, mentorship and resources to perform their own independent research projects at school or at home, which can be submitted to JEI for publication. Students will learn from Harvard graduate, medical, and postdoctoral students. In addition to generating new knowledge for your community, published manuscripts are an excellent way to stand out on college applications and to build connections within the STEM community.

Lunch will be provided, and T-fare/commuter rail can be reimbursed.

Program Featuers:

  • Learn what Harvard scientists use to excel at scientific research and build successful careers
  • Receive individualized mentorship on independent research projects and college applications
  • Become a published author
  • Join a community of passionate students on the path to solving society’s most pressing problems

To be eligible, you must:

  • Be in 8th-10th grade starting September 2020
  • Reside in and/or attend school in Massachusetts and be able to travel to the Longwood Medical Area in Boston eight Saturdays in the fall of 2020 (10/3, 10/10, 10/17, 10/24, 10/31, 11/7, 11/14, and 11/21). Sessions will be between 10:00am-2:00pm.
  • Meet at least one of the following criteria:

Application Requirements:

To apply, please submit responses to our online application form (see below). Our application requires one letter of recommendation from a teacher. When submitting your application form, please provide an email address for your chosen recommender. JEI will email your recommender with an electronic form that they can submit remotely. Transcripts are not required but can be attached to the online form

Application decisions are rolling and the absolute deadline for applying is 9/15/2020 at 11:59pm. The deadline for teacher recommendations is 9/15/2020 at 11:59pm. Late applications will not be reviewed.

COVID-19 Contingency Plans:

Harvard Medical School is closely monitoring COVID19, and our camp will comply with government and university guidelines on small gatherings. If in September, student gatherings are not allowed on campus, we will delay the camp to 1/16, 1/23, 1/30, 2/6, 2/13, 2/20, 2/27, and 3/6. We will update prospective and accepted applicants in early August if the contingency timeline will be put in place.

Application Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Is there a minimum GPA?

No, but competitive applicants typically have a past-track record of academic success in STEM. Nevertheless, students who have expressed great enthusiasm in performing independent research projects are highly encouraged to apply.

2. Do I need research experience to apply?

No, research experience is not necessary but certainly does not disqualify your eligibility. Past research experiences may be discussed as motivation for your interest in our program.

3. What sort of experiments will students be performing?

Given the time restraints, students will perform experiments with bacteria, which grow quickly. Although the focus of the experiments will be biological, the scientific method is applicable to all fields of engineering and science. Students will be encouraged throughout the Fall to identify questions in any field that interest them for future independent research projects.

4. Are there any costs associated with the program?

No, the program is completely free.

5. How will my teacher know to fill out a recommendation form?

Once you have submitted your application we will send an email to the teacher's address that you provided on the form. However, if you would like to give your teacher a head start on the recommendation portion of your application, you can provide them with a link to the form here

Are you a teacher wishing to recommend a student? Find the form here

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