Wesley "Wes" Shiflett graduated a few weeks ago from The Key School and is ready to ride off into the sunset, just like that iconic scene from many movies. Only, it won't be the end of Shiflett – or the movies he's created or the ones down the road that will someday bear his imprint.


Experimental Design

Experimental Design is an elective semester-long science course in the Upper School that provides juniors and seniors the opportunity to craft a lab or field-based experiment drawing from the theoretical knowledge they gathered in Key’s core science curriculum. The rigorous course requires students to pose an essential question, research and create a hypothesis, write a proposal which is peer-reviewed, then perform a carefully designed experiment and analyze the results. Proposed experiments are approved by the teacher.

Through this construct, students truly experience the scientific process; engaging with dependent variables, replication, reducing bias, controls, error, and statistical analysis. Students are required to collaborate with both an off-campus mentor and the Key teacher who provide specific expertise and guidance. During their culminating presentation, students present their findings to a panel of Key faculty and their peers and facilitate discussion about the importance of their project.

This fall's Experimental Design Projects include:

  • Engineering a sensory-activated robotic arm through computer programming and 3D printing
  • An experiment in generating power through a newly designed alternator
  • The chemistry and biology of bioluminescence
  • A study of the physics of light using reflection and refraction of various lenses
  • Field studies on carbon sequestration, the impact of oyster beds on local environments, and small-scale migration patterns due to climate change
  • Android game design with C++
  • The study of acoustics and electricity
  • The building of highly efficient electromagnets