Summer Research Connection
The Summer Research Connection (SRC) is Oak Crest’s annual collaboration with the Caltech Classroom Connection, which provides high school students and K-12 science teachers paid research internships at Caltech or Oak Crest. Participants in the SRC conduct mentored research for over five weeks each summer on one of a variety of science or engineering fields. In addition to research, participants attend a variety of workshops and seminars on related topics.
Unlike in school, where students are usually given “cookbook” lab procedures to follow with the goal of arriving at known answers, SRC participants gain first-hand knowledge of true scientific research.
Among the many SRC projects is the Arroyo Seco Water Quality Project. The Arroyo Seco is a stream found in the city of Pasadena. An important feature to the founders of this city, the Arroyo Seco provides many benefits for both humans and other living organisms. Since 2009, a team of Oak Crest’s SRC researchers have led a project to understand the chemistry and microbial ecology of the Arroyo Seco. Following broad surveys of the levels of a variety of chemicals in the water, SRC researchers honed in on the concentrations of the nitrogen-containing compounds in the water. Their research has indicated the spikes in levels of these compounds in the Arroyo Seco water is unlikely to be due to the bacteria living in the water, thus indicating a human source of contamination.
Through the SRC and projects such as the Arroyo Seco water study, students are inspired to pursue science or engineering majors and careers, and teachers are inspired to incorporate hands-on learning and authentic research processes in their classrooms while becoming reinvigorated to teach science.