Experimental Design

group of people looking up at an experiment

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 and approved by the teacher, then perform a carefully designed experiment and analyze the results.

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.

Examples of Experimental Design Projects

  • Creating a novel way to use proton cancer therapy
  • Engineering a sensory-activated robotic arm through computer programming and 3D printing
  • An experiment in generating power through a newly designed alternator
  • A comparative DNA study of blueberries using electrophoresis gel
  • The chemistry and biology of bioluminescence
  • Experimenting with different chemical solutions for film development
  • Creating firework colors using metal oxidizers
  • 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
  • An updated marshmallow delayed gratification study
  • Android game design with C++
  • The study of acoustics and electricity
  • The building of highly efficient electromagnets