Honors Biology Students Present Findings of Pond Life Experiments
Posted on 01/16/2020
The members of the Freshman Honors Biology class presented their findings at the first annual Honors Biology Symposium at St. Thomas Aquinas High School, highlighting the academic outcomes that are possible through high-quality project-based learning experiences.

The focus of the Symposium featured group presentations to faculty, students, and staff on the study of algae collected from Oak Tree Pond in Edison. Topics presented included A Study of the Effects of Temperature on Algae Growth, Comparing the Growth of Algae under Natural and Synthetic Light, and The Effect of Adding Vitamin C Powder to Pond Algae, to name just a few. The presentations displayed the students’ individual and collective work: displaying challenges faced, obstacles overcome, and lessons learned. Casual observers may have believed that they were listening to college-level presentations as students presented their empirical results, fielded questions from classmates and teachers, and demonstrated their intricate knowledge of research tools such as micropipettes and hemocytometers.

Honors Biology teacher Dan Mulvihill said, “This is the student’s first experience with real science: they did real work which resulted in real conclusions. They worked collaboratively toward achieving their goals.” The presentations showed clearly that students utilized the scientific method: from hypothesis to data collection and analysis to interpreting results.

Christian Perez ‘23, one of the presenters, found the exercise to be quite stimulating and educational. “It was a great assignment,” he said. “We had a chance to think about real problems and develop real solutions.”

The Honors Biology Symposium is part of STA's project-based learning initiative, designed to build not only the academic prowess of the students but also their collaborative, critical thinking, teambuilding skills, problem-solving skills, and presentations skills. This student-centered but teacher-guided approach to learning helps cultivate a deeper understanding of topics as diverse as Ancient Rome and molecular biology.