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Madison Country Day School's Partnership with Edgewood College: A Unique Opportunity for Aspiring Scientists


The Summer Research Academy (SRA) is an enrichment opportunity to explore areas of science & humanities in-depth, beyond what is covered in a typical high school classroom. SRA is open to motivated middle and high students entering grades 7-12 from MCDS and the general public. MCDS students entering grades 11-12 can apply to be a peer leader.


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2024 Offerings:


Field study of Lake Wingra: A snapshot of lake health & human impact

Think like a limnologist! Embark on a two-week field study program where students develop lab techniques and data analysis skills to answer the enduring question: “What is the health of Lake Wingra and what role do humans have in this?” In order to answer this question, students will gather data from the field, hear from experts in local limnology, and propose future topics of advocacy for exploration. The program will culminate with a State of Lake address where students present research and propose future advocacy opportunities. Comfort being on and near the water (e.g. kayaking for 1+ hours at a time) is required. 

Biodesign: Creation inspired by nature

Biodesign is a multidisciplinary field which takes inspiration from natural functions, systems, or components. This inspiration is then used to solve problems such as designing artificial devices, structures or buildings or it is used as inspiration for artistic projects. In this course, students will study various aspects of the natural world including how the human hand functions and how natural structures are able to support so much weight. Students will use the design process to create, prototype, test, and finally produce their own nature-inspired product in the Edgewood Fabrication Laboratory.

Paleomagnetism: Explore the Earth’s Ancient Past

Merging physics and volcanoes! Paleomagnetism can be used as an application to recreate the past of Earth’s previous magnetic fields. This study combines physics, geology, and computer programming to answer questions on how we use geophysics to enhance volcanic hazard assessment. The study area is the Snake River Plain, a volcanic province that stretches 600 km from eastern Oregon across southern Idaho and into northwest Wyoming. We will correlate lava flows across various coreholes within the Eastern Snake River Plains using a combination of computer programming and experiments in the lab. Student projects work will be based on an ongoing volcanic hazard assessment facilitated by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the United States Geological Survey. Students will have the opportunity to visit the geophysics labs at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and meet paleomagnetists.  

Genetic Engineering

In this session, you'll learn to think like a geneticist and to use biotechnology to explore the effect of mutations on yeast cells. Students will get to use laboratory techniques like PCR, electrophoresis and cellular transformation to alter the genes in yeast cells using recombinant DNA plasmids. We will also use 3D modeling of proteins to predict how mutations might affect the function of proteins. Using these tools, students will design their own experiments to better understand how yeast cells work.

Historical Research: Evidence and Imagination

Pop quiz: what state capital is the home of the oldest publicly-funded historical society in the United States? If you answered Madison, Wisconsin, you’re right! Historians in our area have been preserving documents, collecting stories, interpreting information, and sharing their work with the public since at least 1846 (two years before Wisconsin even became a state!). This course will follow in that rich tradition, as students will learn basic principles of historical inquiry and investigation by working together to identify and solve a local “historical mystery.” Over the course of this two-week session, we will: a) get hands-on experience working with different types of documents at area archives, including the Wisconsin Historical Society and local colleges/universities; b) find and connect with relevant community organizations to expand and contextualize our knowledge; and c) collaboratively create a public history “product” (i.e., an editorial, documentary, podcast, mural, etc.) in order to share our work with a wider audience.


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