North Central High School science teacher Brent Osborn wanted to create a complete research experience for his 10th-grade class.
As in most science classes, the students formulated a problem, gathered data, and formed and tested a hypothesis. However, these students took it a step further by writing, presenting and publishing their findings in the first-ever “NC Journal of Science, Science: Pathway to the Future.”
According to Osborn, there are only a couple of science journals in the United States that feature original research from a combination of high school students from across the country. As far as he knows, this is the first and only science journal completely produced from a single school’s research efforts.
“I think the students gained a lot from it. They see the value in it and they maybe enjoy science a little more now than they did. At least I hope so,” said Osborn.
The process spanned the entire academic year, beginning in September, when students met with a botanist, a geologist, a representative from the Noxious Weed Control Board, and an individual from the Fish and Wildlife Department at the Pinecroft Natural Area Preserve.
The 104-acre preserve is the only section of protected prepioneer habitat in Spokane County, located in the Spokane Valley, north of Pines Road.
Pinecroft remains home to badgers, coyotes, hawks, owls and a variety of songbirds.
Students worked in groups of three, based on their interests. The journal is made up of 21 research papers. Some of the topics covered include: animal movement through natural areas; genetic variation on native grasses; and quantification of soil microorganisms.
A majority of the research work was made possible by a Toyota Tapestry Grant and a M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust Grant.
Itron, a Spokane Valley technology company, donated funds to print and publish 500 copies of the journal.
On May 16, the students presented their materials verbally to professionals in the fields as well as their peers. “They really enjoyed the field and research work, but when they were done presenting, they felt a great sense of accomplishment. They understand their topics very well, because they had to,” said Osborn.
Osborn hopes that the science symposium and publication of the journal continue in the future.
“We have a great tradition of science here. It’s my hope that the journal becomes larger every year, that this becomes something that North Central is known for. We do science, and we do it really well,” said Osborn.
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