Early Research Participation (ERP)
Early Research Participation (ERP) is defined as real research done before graduate school by high school and early college (freshmen and sophomores) in curricular or non-curricular settings.
“We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.” -- Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States (1933-1945)
"I learn by going where I have to go." -- from The Waking by Theodore Roethke, American Poet (1908-1963)
A fundamental guiding principle of BEST is early engagement of students in the research, discovery and innovation process. Simply put, we believe that students do not require four years of high school and four years of college before they are engaged in authentic research.
There is no valid reason why students who drive cars, use computers, excel at video games, and navigate a host of modern twenty-first century technologies cannot also recrystallize solids, rotovap solvents, reflux reactions, separate mixtures, or operate infrared, Raman, UV-Vis and NMR instruments.
The conventional approach and attitude about when students can participate in real research is outdated in today’s global innovation economy. It simply makes good sense, in a global economy dominated by science and technology, that actively engaging students as early as possible in research is not only smart educational practice but also a sustainable economic and prudent workforce development policy.
Early research participation facilitates a host of desirable and needed outcomes, such as,
(a) building the STEM workforce,
(b) capturing the most innovative and productive years of the human life span,
(c) increasing investments in young ‘homegrown’ researchers rather than foreign post-docs,
(d) providing an avenue for seamless transitions and interactions between secondary and tertiary science education, and
(e) facilitating a sustainable culture of innovation, discovery and development.
Our two major approaches to early research participation involve (a) curricular research during an independent research period (IRP) and (b) the non-curricular summer research period (SRP). Both have built-in systems of accountability: academic grades for the IRP and paychecks for SRP.