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Education and Outreach Programs

Exemplary Student Research Program

About the Program

Using the world-class facilities at the Advanced Photon Source (APS), high school students and their teachers work in teams with Argonne scientists to conduct research projects from start to finish. Only a handful of programs in the world allow high school students to conduct synchrotron science, making the ESRP (Exemplary Student Research Program) a unique and life-changing experience for students and teachers alike.

The program lasts an entire school year beginning in summer, when teachers apply to form a research team at their school. After attending an introductory workshop, teachers are matched with a scientist mentor and charged with selecting their students. During the fall and spring, teams prepare a research proposal; design and set up an experiment; gather and analyze data; make conclusions; and create a final poster. In this program, school teams are considered to be part of the larger Argonne international synchrotron light source user community: ESRP posters are presented alongside the rest of the user community’s work at the annual Argonne APS/CNM User Meeting in the spring. 

This program is designed to enhance Honors and Advanced Placement STEM classes. High school science teachers of any discipline (e.g. Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Engineering, Environmental Science) willing to guide a team of 4-8 students in doing research are encouraged to apply. Teachers are responsible for facilitating the research process with their team and acting as an intermediary between Argonne and their students.

All teams are required to come to Argonne twice during the school year, once to collect their data at the APS  and once to present their work at the User Meeting, with additional opportunities to engage with mentors or to visit Argonne depending on the project.

Exemplary Student Research Program

Registration for the 2020-2021 school year program is closed.

Application Requirements

To qualify for the ESRP program, the teacher applicant(s) (one team allowed per school) must:

  • Hold a valid state teaching certificate for grades 9-12.
  • Attend a workshop in August to learn about synchrotron science, program requirements, strategies for engaging students in research, and to meet scientist mentors.

Program Activities

In this program, teams will:

  • Develop an official General User Proposal of their project, which will be reviewed by a team of scientists
  • Undergo registration and training to become Users of the Advanced Photon Source
  • Interact with Argonne scientists at all stages of their research project, which may include lab visits, correspondence, meetings in person or by teleconference
  • Collect data at the Advanced Photon Source
  • Prepare a professional poster of their project and present their results to the research community

2021 Participating High Schools

  • Bolingbrook High School
  • Glenbrook South High School
  • Hoffman Estates High School
  • Lakes Community High School
  • Lemont High School
  • Lincoln-Way East High School
  • Lockport Township High School
  • Maine South High School
  • Metea Valley High School
  • Naperville Central High School
  • Neuqua Valley High School
  • Tinley Park High School