Advanced Senior Research Projects: Introduction

By Serenity Beaumont, Spiritual Life Division Head

This is our last year with our seniors, and The Blue and White wants to take every opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments! One of these accomplishments is the grueling Advanced Senior Research (ASR) process. In the Spring, all LCA seniors are required to participate in internships outside of LCA tailored to their desired studies; however, an alternative option includes seniors who want to be a part of ASR. These seniors can apply for this program, as it is selective.

Directed by high school teacher Danah Hashem, ASR allows for students to propose, design, and pursue an independent research project that they undergo with support from an LCA mentor in order to accomplish a particular research-related goal, presenting their findings to a board at regular intervals. Our Blue and White journalists were able to sit down and talk with Ms. Hashem to get some more information about the program.

  • How did ASR start?

ASR has been a part of LCA academic life for decades now. It’s a program LCA offers that sets us apart because it offers individual seniors the opportunity to pursue year-long, customized projects that cater to exactly their interest areas. Along with the support in designing this research process, LCA offers students guidance from faculty and staff with professional experience in the specific field, resources such as our MakerSpace and connections to outside industries, and multiple opportunities to practice presenting your findings to an interdisciplinary audience. This is a program that essentially provides students with professional experience in topics they care about and want to pursue in the future.

  • Interesting past projects 

Interesting past projects have included when Peter Zheng who designed a phone app that translates footage of a hand signing in sign language into written text. More recently, Olivia Cerci gathered LCA artists to produce test works and designed a statistically valid test to measure features of artwork that had the highest emotional impact on viewers.

  • Expectations (for students interested in doing it for the future)

Ms. Hashem states that there are 2 main things regarding expectations for students interested in ASR. 

1 – do you have a passion? It can be anything! Ms. Hashem encourages students to think about something that you spend hours outside of school working on because it’s something you can’t stop thinking about. 

2 – The student must be able to work independently, set and follow your own deadlines, and pursue goals that you’ve designed and set. ASR is run entirely by students’ motivation; LCA is just there to support.

Over the course of this year, The Blue and White will follow this year’s ASR researchers: Trina Schell, Stella Feng, Allen Gao, Annie Chen, and Mazer Xu on their ASR journey; we will check in with them periodically to track their progress and research tactics.

Follow along with The Blue and White this year as we track the following exciting research projects:

  • Our first senior, Stella, is exploring issues of immigration and culture shock through her artwork in the form of a narrative graphic novel.
  • Trina, an avid playwright, is researching the role of collaboration in contemporary theater and how it impacts the practice of playwriting.
  • Allen’s research involves building and designing a 2D computer game that exposes players to Chinese culture, art, and history.
  • Mazer is building an exoskeleton arm designed to assist the wearer in lifting heavy weights.
  • Annie’s research hopes to engage the entire LCA community in an effort to tangibly and practically combat climate change. She hopes to involve the teachers, student body, and LCA board as she researches what makes awareness campaigns effective.

Stay tuned for more articles and information about these seniors and their research!