Is our world experiencing a mass extinction? Is biodiversity just about saving species, or about balancing complex ecosystems? Could biodiversity be the key to new, life-saving drugs? How could coding and robotics help us answer ecological questions? Is the preservation of biodiversity something God asks of us?
In Houghton’s Science Honors track, students begin their college career with an integrated, hands-on research experience where they focus on a pressing, real-world problem and actually do science.
What sets Houghton’s Science Honors apart? An interdisciplinary research project in the first year. Our faculty devised the Science Honors curriculum thinking about how students become scientists. Mastering a knowledge base is necessary, certainly, but becoming a scientist requires more than learning facts from a textbook. To generate knowledge about the world around us or to solve complex issues facing society, scientists must devise novel experiments, solve unfamiliar problems, and disseminate original ideas.
Core Research Project
Science Honors is an interdisciplinary course in which students and professors work together on the design and implementation of a research project focused on a major world issue. In the 2017-18 academic year, the Science Honors curriculum addressed biodiversity, one of the most complex and multi-layered topics in contemporary science.
After getting the background they need, students will work in teams to engineer, construct, and evaluate their own mobile robotic biodiversity assessment device (MR|BAD). They will then travel in May to the Sonoran Desert in Arizona to deploy their devices in the field, gather data, and analyze the results.
Solutions to complex real-world problems and the cutting edge of scientific and technological innovation are increasingly found at the interface of traditional disciplines. Students in Science Honors work closely with professors from biology, chemistry, physics, and math as they develop their research project. Writing and communication faculty prepare students to present and translate their research to both expert and general audiences. Additional coursework in the humanities will prepare students with confidence to understand the ethical and social impacts of science and technology.