The Science, Mathematics, Computer Science students have the opportunity to specialize in a rigorous mathematics and science program focused on problem-solving skills and research. The program is located in Poolesville High School to help promote high-quality, integrated education and to enhance learning opportunities for highly able students from the upper county area. This program offers the opportunity for students to build an extraordinary foundation in all subject areas, better understand their interrelationships, and participate in unique research opportunities.
Mark Curran, Head of House, Science, Math, and Computer Science
Mark Estep, Teacher
Prasad Gerard, Teacher
Keith Gordon, Teacher
Zachary Kingman, Teacher
Kevin Lee, Teacher
Soni Sarin, Teacher
Anupama Sekhsaria, Teacher
Jack Stansbury, Teacher
Class of 2014 SMCS Senior Retrospective
Summer Science Packet for Incoming Freshman (Updated 6/16/2017)
Summer Computer Science Work for Incoming Freshman Fundamentals of Computer Science covers a number of topics including programming. While we teach Python 3.4 from the basics, it is useful to already have some degree of introductory programming background. If you are new to programming, you are recommended to take a free online introductory course. As we use Python 3.4 it is recommended that the course use version 3.x, but a version 2.x course is fine. There are a variety of free online courses available but some that have been looked at include
Code Academy: https://www.codecademy.com/learn/python (only the first 9 topics (through 9 Exam Statistics) are necessary. )
University of Michigan: https://www.coursera.org/learn/python
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Class of 2014 Research Symposium
If you walked into Poolesville High School (PHS) during the week before winter break, you might feel as if you have walked into the National Institutes of Health meeting room or an American Association for the Advancement of Science Conference. Professional scientific lectures are being given to standing-room only audiences on the latest cutting-edge research in cybersecurity, proteomics, cancer research, and green energy as PHS seniors present their summer internship work in a school-wide conference. Last summer 54 interns from the Science, Math, and Computer Science (SMCS) magnet SMCS house, joined by a Global Ecology house student , interned in professional research internships at many locations including the NIH, NASA, the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST)), the National Cancer Institute (NCI), University of Maryland at College Park, Children's Hospital, Georgetown University, and more sites. Their project topics spanned many diverse areas across biology, physics, chemistry, physiology, psychology, engineering, and computer science.
The conference attendees include students from all types of backgrounds and interests, but they are unified in their gratitude for exposure to research opportunities and accomplishments presented by their peers. “ Science is much more interesting when it is coming from someone my age. And it is really eye-opening to see what students our age can do” says Humanities magnet senior Jaqueline Hase. “Science research doesn’t seem as hard or scary coming from another student. I believe if they can do research like this, I can too. ”
According to Dr. Teresa Stone, a teacher in the SMCS program and a former NIST researcher, “ Science in the real world is really not much like science in the classroom. Most students do not experience real world science until after their undergraduate degrees – which is probably too late for many students to discover that they may want a pathway to a STEM career. Efforts for STEM must start in classroom but need to extend to the real world.” The SMCS program starts preparing students to do original research from the first day of 9th grade on through the end of 11th grade in the class called Senior Research Project A. After the internship, students take another SMCS class, Senior Research Project B, which supports them in preparing professional level journal articles, a conference style lecture, and a research poster on their projects. “SMCS provided me with the tools I needed to take on a fulfilling internship, from the day I began applying to research institutions to the day I left my lab with a research paper in hand” said SMCS senior Dhruv Shankar. Students outside of the magnet can also follow the SMCS research pathway as long as they are willing to take prerequisites and required classes.
The importance of real world experience to STEM can be hard to understand for someone who has never done science research. Who would imagine that science in the real world can be as exciting, powerful, emotional, and life-changing as it really is? Senior Ishaan Shah, who interned at MIT last summer says “Learning and discovering on my own made me truly find the beauty in learning.” An analogy to driver education versus really driving a car can help one understand the difference between classroom and real world science education. How well would you understand the joy, power, and cost of driving a car without ever actually driving one yourself? But, just as it would not be safe to put a someone in the driver seat without classroom driver education, solid science classroom education is crucial before a student can step into a real professional laboratory. SMCS senior Dhruv Shankar expressed this dichotomy in “Research is a completely different world from that of the classroom. You have to devise your own ideas and work out problems that can’t be solved by looking at a textbook. But it’s the only way to see real science in action, and there’s nothing more satisfying than charting new ground in the field you love”.
What do the SMCS students take away from their internships? Professional scientific research is a life-changing experience. Some students publish their work in professional journals in their field of research, thereby entering the scientific record and their place in history. You may even be asked to present at a conference in another state or another country. PHS SMCS seniors have been invited to present as far away as London, Austria, and Japan. Other students discover the professional lab and the professional science culture is where they want to be for the rest of their careers. Equally important at early stages in an academic career, other students discover that research is not for them. All student interns benefit in terms of experience for their resumes, for future employment, and for college applications. Based on their research projects, students enter and win national competitions which can also help get them into the school of their choice and earn significant scholarship money. In terms of college applications, the professional research experience places students in a very exclusive small group of applicants with demonstrated success in research. Robert C K Snow, President of Coaching 4 College Admissions, on the website for the Journal of Experimental Secondary Science states “For a high school student to have original research in a professionally reviewed publication is the equivalent to being an All American athlete. “
Written by Dr. Stone, January 2014
Students can choose from a range of courses in the Science, Math, Computer Science House. The following courses must be successfully completed by students who tested into this program to earn a Tested In Science, Math, Computer Science Certificate of Achievement. (Printable Version)
Coursework Frequently Asked Questions
Students in the Science, Math, Computer Science House will develop a high level of skill in the following:
- Visualizing the interdisciplinary nature of all things
- Organization and time management
- Current research and information gathering techniques
- Experimental design and hypothesis testing
- Data collection and analysis
- Oral, written and graphic presentation
- Integrating current technology into creative problem solving
- Mathematical abstraction, theory and proof
- Maryland Cyber Challenge and Competition (MDC3) Finals Competition Winners!
Congratulations to the six members of the team "PHS Falcons" who won the competition - and in doing so receive a $5,000 scholarship from the NSA...each! Team members include; Anyuan Chu, Jeffrey Falgout, Anirudh Neti, Vineet Padia, Siddharth Singal, and Umesh Padia. These students have also been invited by the Department of Homeland Security to present at a local conference.
The purpose of the competition was to promote cyber security education, awareness and cyber careers to students with strong interests in STEM.
- Siemens Semifinalist!
Congratulations to Meghana Patel for placing as a semifinalist in the 2012 Siemens Science Competition. Her competition paper was entitled: Investigating the Axonal Translation and Regulation of mRNAs That Encode the Enzymes Involved in the Catecholamine Biosynthetic Pathway". She is our first biology/ molecular biology/ biochemistry intern to be recognized!
The complete list of winners can be found here:
We are very proud of all the students who prepared entries - we had 18 fabulous entries this year!
Share you Success! Please email Ms. Bradshaw with your Success Story!