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Tips for Students: Inspiring Young Scientists through Independent Research

Highlights from Expert Series

The following article shares highlights and insights from one of our Expert Series events, which are exclusive for Young Scholars and their parents.


If you’re interested in science/technology, and the ability to explore for yourself, then this webinar by Andy Bramante (the Director of Student Science Innovation at Greenwich Public Schools) should pique your interest. In this webinar, Andy discusses what it takes to be a successful, young researcher, whether at the middle school or high school level. He touches on the many exciting opportunities for young researchers, whether it’s at-home, at school, or at a local university lab. He provides insight on where students can present their innovative work, and he shares some of his current and former students’ award-winning projects. He also describes what it takes to motivate talented and curious students so that they perform at the very highest level.

In the talk, Andy describes how one can originate, design, and execute a successful and meaningful science research project. He discusses the significant benefits for conducting such a project, with regards to personal growth, specifically:

  • Learning how to think creatively, in the most non-traditional setting.
  • Learning how to allow your own curiosities and imagination to originate a project in a topic that excites you.
  • Learning how to conduct a project full of surprises, unexpected results, and perhaps failures, and developing the insight to pivot off of those roadblocks into new avenues of discovery.
  • Obtaining the skills to immerse yourself into an advanced scientific discipline, that is personally exciting, and well beyond the scientific boundaries and expectations of your traditional school curriculum.
  • Learning the skills of written and oral communication, developed in the 1:1 defense of your own ideas and meaningful research findings.

In the webinar, Andy shares his over 18 years of experience in teaching the Greenwich High School research class, where so many of his students have won notable awards and recognitions, but perhaps more importantly, have gone on to a variety of successful careers, where they have taken so many of the skills that they had learned in the science research class/arena, and used them to become successful doctors, researchers, engineers, lawyers, artists, and politicians!


Tips for Inspiring Young Scientists

  1. Inspiration for a research project should come from within! Your project should center on your own area(s) of interest, AND NOT what is perceived to be a winning science fair project/topic.
  2. Your research project idea should be personal; it should be a topic that excites you, or one that you would like to know more about
  3. Your selected project should be relevant to problems we currently face; this will provide the impact that many seek, should you succeed.
  4. Born of your own interests, your project should be fun. And remember, as you’re working on your project, don’t be afraid of failure, as this often leads to new directions, new thoughts, and new creativity that will take you in unexpected & exciting directions.
  5. Approach your research project as a personal opportunity for growth, AND NOT as a preparative exercise for participation in a science fair.
  6. Pick a topic that is “attainable,” depending on whether you’ll be doing the work on your own, at school, or at a neighboring university.

Things students can do to explore independent science research further

As your search for ideas on your science project, I would suggest that you visit the following resources:

  • Science News (online)
  • Science Daily (online)
  • Popular Science Magazine
  • Browse the published abstracts of your previous local and state science fairs, the Broadcom Masters, the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (both National and Regional), and the ISEF fair. These abstracts are often arranged by discipline, so it’s easy to find project ideas in Math, Medicine, Engineering, etc., simply via a search of their website.

Further resources:

Authored by: Andy Bramante
Bio: A Bronx native, Andy Bramante attended Fordham University on a Full Scholarship and graduated with a B.S. and M.S. in chemistry. After working in industry for 20 years at Foxboro, Hitachi Instruments, and PerkinElmer, Andy made a career change in 2005, so that he could inspire and mentor students in STEM. He accepted a position at Greenwich High School as a chemistry teacher, and 1-year later, would go on to teach and direct the Independent Science Research class at the high school. Since, his class has produced incredible successes, with students whose careers include start-up businesses (driven by their research patents), medicine, engineering, film making, business, law, and politics. This upcoming school year, Andy is launching a research program for the Greenwich middle school students, entitled Junior Innovators! Andy’s incredible work with his students and the world of high school science research was recently profiled in the critically acclaimed book The Class by Emmy award winning producer Heather Won Tesoriero.

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