The Advanced Authentic Research (AAR) program strives to fulfill our mission of nurturing student interest and igniting student passion through real world, hands on research enabling students to explore career pathways. The program innovatively adapts Career and Technical Education (CTE) foundation standards in conjunction with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for science and engineering practice, and our district’s vision statement for students to explore topics in a wide variety of disciplines including humanities and social sciences, business, science and engineering. AAR students bring passion, curiosity, and perseverance to the program.
The AAR program is a unique opportunity for students in grades 10-12 to engage in original research in an area of their choosing. Students are paired with mentors who are experts in the field of the student's choosing. It is possible, and encouraged, for students to collaborate with one another on a given project. Mentors support and facilitate the student's work in the mentor's lab, office, or other appropriate environment.
A process oriented curriculum, developed by the AAR team, supports students as they research. Students are expected to spend about 60 hours per semester (3-4 hours per week) on their project. The program is UC "g" approved, and students earn 5 CTE credits per semester.
The curriculum is built on the following 3 key elements:
- Personalized Learning: As part of the registration process, students share information about their area(s) of interest, their passions, and their reasons for applying to the AAR program. The AAR team evaluates each registration and matches the student with a mentor who is an expert in the student’s chosen research area.
- Integration of Knowledge and Process: Most projects begin with a literature review, during which students learn what has already been covered in their chosen area and work toward formulating their research question. The next phase is to perform appropriate experiments, collect data, and analyzing this data. Students work closely with their mentor during this phase to ensure the scope is appropriate, the experiments are legitimate, and the data is valid.
- Communication of Research Project: Developing students’ communication skills is an integral part of the AAR curriculum and contributes to interdisciplinary learning. Students may use different forms of communication to share progress on their project. Students have regular classroom time and check-in meetings with the AAR coordinating team during their project. During the project, they communicate with their mentors and their peers about their work. Students are required to write a research proposal and a final paper, and to participate in a poster presentation which also serves as an end-of year celebration of the program.