GPAC and SERC students carry on projects despite distance learning challenges

Laura Taylor, Staff Writer

As with all classes during quarantine, the GPAC and SERC concentration programs have been forced to adapt to the odd circumstances in order to meet the needs of their students, locked up at home. However, with these new changes come a great deal of challenges now that school is conducted through Zoom; it is difficult to reach the same intimacy of a classroom discussion. 

“What is so special about the GPAC classroom is that we do really interesting readings and then have fun discussions in class. I have found that fostering that community has been harder to do over Zoom, because you do not physically share the discussion table with your peers. Unfortunately, I don’t think that you get that same powerful reaction in discussion,” said GPAC faculty leader Bridget Gagne.

Instead of writing letters to congressmen at the end of their climate change unit, GPAC 10th graders are now doing speeches. This change in curriculum actually could be beneficial, however, because learning how to write and present speeches might be of better use to the GPAC students than writing letters. 

GPAC 11th graders are also adjusting to online school, including planning a virtual assembly to present their research papers. Although they have already turned in their 15-page outline, they still have to write their research papers over the course of the spring.

SERC students face different problems. Tenth graders enrolled in the SERC program normally expect college level lab work and a very hands on experience, yet with online classes, these experiences have been put on hold. 

The students are still able to work on figuring out their area of research, however, but are waiting to reach out to mentors until after the quarantine is over. 

SERC students in 11th grade are also facing challenges. Many summer internships have been cancelled or postponed, and many projects can not be completed. Yet, students are nonetheless looking to carry out their projects with online virtual programs.

SERC faculty advisor and biology teacher Isabelle Cohen outlined the changes in the program for her current juniors. 

“Seven out of eight are actually doing something related to their current projects and have been redefining questions and recontacting their mentor to make sure that they can still have support from their university professors to redesign something that is a virtual approach. One of them has decided to do something completely new, a COVID project,” said Dr. Cohen.