Research Opportunities

Breck is recognized for its three exceptional upper school advanced research programs in Science, History, and Math. Interested and motivated students who are willing to work hard in exchange for a tremendously rewarding experience are encouraged to apply to one of the research programs.

Through our Community-Based Research in Mathematics program, students become consulting mathematicians who perform research with a governmental, civic or nonprofit group to solve real-world problems.

Our Advanced Research in History offers students a college seminar-like experience to investigate, analyze, and understand a topic in depth, while gaining experience in field research, first-person interviews, and discussions with experts in their specific areas.

The Advanced Science Research program gives the opportunity to students interested in science to have an actual research experience. The students are placed in a research lab with a faculty mentor and spend time during the summer pursuing a research project of his or her choosing.

Recent participants Advanced Science Research students in have developed an iPhone app to measure limb functionality in stroke patients and used stem-cell technology to develop an artificial lung that could replace donor transplants.

Research Programs

Science

The Advanced Science Research Program gives the opportunity to students interested in science to have an actual research experience. The students are placed in a research lab with a faculty mentor and spends time during the summer pursuing a research project of his or her choosing. Students are matched based on their interests and talents with university mentors. Then they work for at least 320 hours during the summer in the lab, starting either during May Program or the first week of June. Summer research experiences are offered at universities and colleges such as the University of Minnesota, St. Thomas, and Augsburg. During research, students learn to use a vast array of databases to find information on their research topic. As they work in the laboratory, students keep a notebook following the guidelines of the laboratory in which they work.  

Once school begins in the fall, students enroll in the Advanced Science Research class. During class, students write research papers, design posters, and create PowerPoints. They present their work at the Minnesota Science and Engineering Fair and at the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. There is also a formal seminar presentation held at Breck School given to mentors, research students, and parents. The Science Department believes that doing real research and working with mentors encourages students to pursue careers in science. Unlike our regular science classes, where science is taught using books and discrete laboratory experience, the Advanced Science Research Program immerses students in real-world scientific studies. The excitement and interest in science generated by the program enriches our science program. You can read more about this program on the ASR website.

History

Advanced History Research is designed for the seriously interested history student to participate in an original research experience that goes beyond the traditional classroom. The broad theme of the course is predetermined and typically has a connection to local Minnesota history and draws upon the expertise of individuals and professionals from outside of Breck. During the year students choose their own specific topics to investigate that are related to the overarching theme. History Research students are asked to read widely and dig deeply into primary and secondary source material in addition to interviewing and learning from individuals with direct experience and expertise in the field. Students work in both an intensively collaborative and significantly independent environment.

Students spend time reading background material during June and July and then begin their collective research and learning activities during the month of August. This often will involve a trip to see specific sites in Minnesota. In the fall, students attend the regularly scheduled Advanced History Research seminar class and continue to research, learn and discuss the broad outlines of the topic. In the second semester, students select their own specific focus of inquiry/research related to the overall topic. It is expected that students will apply to be Minnesota Scholars of Distinction, present to outside groups and the Breck community, and to submit their work to relevant publications suggested by the teacher.

This course is for rising seniors only and requires the recommendation of the History Department. It typically is offered for two years on the same topic and then the teacher and topic rotate through the department members.

Previous general topics include:

2012-2013 – Mississippi River towns: stages of development

2013-2015 – The assassination and administration of President John F. Kennedy

2015-2017 – The historical and contemporary experience of Native Americans in Minnesota

Math

This course, a part of Breck’s Advanced Research program, offers promising math students with a strong interest in social justice and community engagement an opportunity to perform research in the community.  Students become consulting mathematicians, empowering nonprofit and community clients with the lens of mathematics.  Student researchers collaborate with clients to identify an area of inquiry.  They determine appropriate research and analytical methods, gather data, analyze results and make recommendations.  Ultimately students compile their findings into an impact report, posters and presentation materials for their individual clients.  They also disseminate their work to community and school-based audiences through seminars and workshops.

Previous projects include:

Who Wins? The Growth of Unified and Adapted Sports

American Refugee Committee: The Role of Mobile Technology in Sudanese Healthcare

Retaining Support: Analyzing Donation Patterns for the JDRF

R.E.A.D. Dogs:  A Paws-in-the-School Approach to Improve Reading Comprehension, Accuracy, and Fluency In Second-Grade Students

Perspectives: Exploring the Intersection Between LGBTQ and Faith Communities

Where There is Unity, There is Victory:  Exploring the Greater Effects of Unified Clubs for Athletes with Disabilities

Free Arts Minnesota:  Analyzing the Power of Art in the Lives of Underserved Youth

Raising Rays: A Grassroots Approach to Generating Solar Power in Urban Communities

For more information, click here to access the program’s website.

P-12 Research

Research is a defining quality of the Breck curriculum, beginning in preschool.

By the end of 4th grade students will be able to:

  • Cite sources using beginner NoodleTools
  • Evaluate sources for accuracy and currency
  • Identify the components of a research process model
  • Write a report using multiple resources including both text and electronic

By the end of 8th grade students will be able to:

  • Cite sources using NoodleTools
  • Evaluate sources for accuracy, quality, currency and bias
  • Follow a research process model
  • Conduct research using multiple resources including both text and electronic
  • Write without plagiarizing

By the end of 11th grade students will be able to:

  • Cite sources using advanced NoodleTools
  • Use multiple citation styles
  • Evaluate sources for currency, relevance, accuracy, authority and purpose
  • Follow a research process model
  • Conduct research using multiple resources including both text and electronic
  • Write without plagiarizing
  • Differentiate between fair use and copyright infringement