Science Honors: Program Overview

Unique Approach

An interdisciplinary research project in the first year. This is the central idea that sets Science Honors apart. How do students become scientists? Mastering a knowledge base is necessary, but being a scientist requires more than learning facts from a textbook. Yes, science builds on past discoveries. But to generate knowledge about the world around us or to solve complex issues facing society, scientists must propose novel experiments, solve unfamiliar problems, and disseminate original ideas. Science Honors enables students to begin their college career with an integrated, hands-on research experience where they actually do science. Through tackling a major issue facing society, exceptional students are immersed in all aspects of the scientific process.

Core Research Project

At the heart of the program is an interdisciplinary course in which students and professors from multiple science fields work together in teams to design and implement a research project focused on a major world issue. For the upcoming year (’15-’16), we will address alternative energy:  Are solar and wind really viable alternatives to fossil fuels?  Are fracking and nuclear power safe? Is it ethical to transform crops into fuel? What are the human health and ecological impacts of our technology? Students will formulate answers to these and other questions as they work on the core research project: designing, constructing, and evaluating their own vehicle powered by alternative energy.

Integrated Learning

Solutions to complex real-world problems and the cutting edge of scientific and technological innovation are increasingly found at the interface of traditional disciplines. Furthermore, scientific leaders must be able to communicate their findings and understand the ethical and social impacts of technology. Students in Science Honors work closely with professors from Biology, Chemistry, and Physics as they develop their research project. Writing and Communication faculty prepare students to present and translate their research to both expert and general audiences. Finally, specialized courses integrating science with History and Philosophy provide context for the role of science and technology in society.

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