ASR: Advanced Scientific Research or Absolute Stress Recipe?


Fatima Elfakahany

Junior Maddie Arnold explains her project to Haven Hardgrave during the Posters Symposium for ASR.

Andrew Lubbers, Special Coverage editor

Throughout the hallways and classrooms of NC, Magnet juniors notoriously complain about classes, teachers, and homework. However, one class appears to strike more anger, stress, and fear in students than any other—Advanced Scientific Research (ASR).

“The time constraints are really stressful and there’s not really enough time to gather the data necessary to form a valid project,” junior Nathaniel Bigelow stated.

Kiky Etika shows off the data on her poster board to fellow junior Nathaniel Bigelow during the Posters Symposium.
Fatima Elfakahany
Kiky Etika shows off the data on her poster board to fellow junior Nathaniel Bigelow during the Posters Symposium.

Advanced Scientific Research devours two semesters of each Magnet student’s junior year and finishes with a presentation in December of senior year. The first semester consists of students selecting a topic, gathering data, perfecting their methodology, and progressing through the scientific method. The second semester dwells on analyzing gathered data, working on the infamous poster board, and finalizing a PowerPoint presentation.

The real question remains: why do students dread the class so much, and why do some even drop the Magnet program altogether simply to avoid it?

Junior Will Stallings, who catches for the baseball team, involves himself with the Relay for Life club, National Honors Society, and currently sits at 13th in the junior class ranking with a 4.4 GPA, and dropped Magnet before junior year and feels no regrets for his decision to leave the program.

“[Magnet students] are all pulling multiple all-nighters a year trying to get their ASR papers done, while I can focus the SAT, ACT, and the tests that really matter,” he said. “I can pursue extracurricular activities such as sports and clubs as well.”

When asked why he initially dropped the program, Stallings felt it no longer benefited him and only created unnecessary extra work.

“I dropped it because it would’ve required me to take multiple classes, including ASR, that are not beneficial to me in the future,” he said. “I am still able to take every single class I want to take.”

Junior Makayla Johnson’s story confirms Stallings’ reasoning as she describes her frustrations for the class.

“Everything starts out so extreme. All of a sudden there are tons of huge due dates back to back, and there’s no warning,” Johnson said.

Although many students claim to despise the class, the benefits and satisfaction of tackling such a tough course eases the pain for some.

“Given the opportunity I probably would have dropped it, but I’m glad I did it because I learned a lot,” Bigelow said.

Since each student selects a different topic, the standards and timelines for the class range wildly, often resulting in confusion regarding material, due dates, and requirements.

“Teachers don’t know how to deal with 20+ unique projects for each class. Since each person’s project is different, it’s hard to generalize instructions,” said junior Manoah Johnson. “Its unlike AP Lang, for example, which has a specific timeline and schedule.”

Mrs. Tippens, one of NC’s two ASR teachers, understands the students’ stress and attributes it to other classes and uncontrollable elements.

“I only see them every other day,” she says. “Most students are taking other AP classes so they sometimes kind of procrastinate. I think most of the stress comes from taking too many AP classes, stretching yourself too thin, and the elements of research that are sometimes uncontrollable.”

She explained how struggles range from keeping daphne fish alive to getting people to turn in surveys.

“It’s a lot to do. They have to come up with their own original research, they have to keep the daphne alive, collect samples, and gather the data, so it’s just very time-consuming. The stress comes from your daphne dying, or you can’t get people to turn surveys in, but we still have a timeline that we need to follow,” Tippens continued.

The constant due dates and stress provide reason for complaint as Magnet juniors continue down the stretch of one of the most time-consuming classes at NC.

“It’s exceedingly stressful and it hits you like a brick wall,” Johnson said. “I am running off of 15 minutes of sleep right now, and it’s all because of ASR.”