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Educational Programs and Outreach

Exemplary Student Research Program

About the Program

Using the world-class facilities at Argonne National Laboratory – including the Advanced Photon Source (APS), Center for Nanoscale Materials (CNM), and Argonne Tandem Linear Accelerator (ATLAS) – high school students and their teachers work in teams with Argonne scientists to conduct research projects from start to finish. The Exemplary Student Research Program (ESRP) is 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 user community at Argonne: ESRP posters are presented annually to the Argonne scientific community 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) who are 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 and once to present their work, with additional opportunities to engage with mentors or to visit Argonne depending on the project.

Exemplary Student Research Program

Applications have closed and teams have been selected for the 2023-24 ESRP.


Please note that because the Advanced Photon Source (APS) will be under construction for a major upgrade during the 2023-24 school year, there will not be projects using the APS itself in this round, and the program will not be able to support as many teams. Teams for the 2023-24 period have been selected.

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, and strategies to engage students in research, as well as 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 an Argonne Facility User
  • Interact with Argonne scientists at all stages of their research project, which may include lab visits, correspondence, and meetings in-person or by teleconference
  • Collect data at an Argonne User Facility
  • Prepare a professional poster of their project and present their results to the research community