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Highschool Student Looking To Possible Be involved In reaserch

  1. Dec 19, 2011 #1
    Is this at all possible? I am currently a high school junior with little to no physics experiance except for maby my current AP physics B class, but other then that I know nothing, so is it possible to get some sort of position at a college to help with reaserch? I am in no way looking to get paid, but rather would love to get some hands on experiance I learn as much as I can, so if anyone has heard of this or has any constructive Ideas for me please post and let me know.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 19, 2011 #2
    This seems impossible. High school students know nothing which can be relevant to the research. The best you can do is trying to find your way in the lab. Don't expect to be able to do any relevant research what so ever.

    I suppose you could have a productive time if somebody would take the time and explain things to you. But nobody is going to do that.

    Don't mean to sound harsh, but that's just the way it is.
  4. Dec 19, 2011 #3
    I wouldn't quite say that. It is probably near impossible or certainly impossible to do advanced physics research as a high school student, and it would be naive to expect a priori that you will be able to do "research" in the sense of making a significant contribution of your own (although there are high school students, perhaps of a somewhat advanced level, who do this).

    It is more likely that you would be able to get a position in a lab helping a graduate student to run experiments that he or she has already designed and thought through, that you would just be following instructions for, or something of that nature. Don't constrain yourself to the physics field if you're looking to get research experience. I worked for a while in a chemistry lab when I was in high school, and I started out on pretty simple experiments and eventually, through making a genuine effort to understand the subject, got on a project of my own-- but now in college I'm not even taking any more chemistry classes. The important thing was that I developed an interest in research early on, which made me want to start research again very soon after I got into college. I also got a taste of academia, albeit a small one, that many undergrads don't come in with.

    That said, I don't know anything about your background. Judge for yourself whether you're willing to put in the effort and understand what the lab is working on. A good place to look would be on the websites of labs at local universities, to see whether they have an "outreach" type program that is intended for high school students (something I've noticed is increasingly common).

    Good luck!
  5. Dec 19, 2011 #4
    I in no way thought I would be able to make any major contrabutions to the physics fields...or even small one's for that matter. I was thinking more of along the lines of learning and do lab type stuff to help out a post doc or somthing along those lines..even writting programs if needed, just whatever to get some experiance and learn stuff in the proccess. Also who would you recomend I contact for something like this? the dean? or the head of the physcs department? let me know what you guys think.
  6. Dec 19, 2011 #5
    Some laboratories have summer research programs for high schools students. Oak Ridge National Laboratory in particular comes to mind. Some of the other Department of Energy labs might as well. If you're not opposed to working in a military lab, I know a few of those also have programs which allow high schoolers to do research. So it is definitely possible for a high schooler to get into research.
  7. Dec 19, 2011 #6
    Definitely don't contact anyone higher up than a professor, because a) they probably don't have time to answer your email and b) they probably don't really know who in the department would be willing to take you. Instead, read up carefully on what certain labs do, and send a well-written and concise email (get someone to proofread it if necessary) to the PI of the lab talking about what exactly interests you about his/her lab and why you'd be useful to the lab. You could even try contacting graduate students directly about their work-- they will have more time to answer your email than a PI would.

    Also, I second @rhombusjr about summer programs.

  8. Dec 19, 2011 #7

    Vanadium 50

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    You have a much better shot with summer programs.

    If a professor tries to hire you, he will get questions like "why aren't you hiring an undergraduate? They're paying to go here" and "why are you hiring someone who is under 18 to work in a laboratory". It's a huge hassle. These summer programs have all the bureaucratic stuff taken care of.
  9. Dec 19, 2011 #8


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    NASA and MIT have summer programs for high school students to get involved in research. They are funded, which gives the professor/scientist a good reason to accept you - right now, they have no good reason. You're not one of their students, it won't help them in any way, it's going to take up a ton of their time (any student does) and you don't have any background. While I've known people who did get involved in research while in high school, they almost all had connections - parents who were professors, great high school teachers, etc.
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