Perhaps more than ever before, the current generation is growing up in a time when truth itself appears to be under attack. The conclusions of scientific investigations have increasingly been reduced to matters of opinion, including some facts that once seemed safely indisputable.
The ultimate goal of the IRP is to help students further develop science literacy. Each researcher, with the guidance of a faculty mentor, will learn firsthand the process of designing, executing, and analyzing an original scientific investigation, from start to finish. Students will examine scientific writing and come to understand the peer review process. They will become versed in basic statistical analysis methods and discover the role of uncertainty in the reporting of results. In some cases, students will even assist local scientists and other professionals with research. We hope the IRP experience helps students understand the scientific process on a deeper level -- from the excitement of identifying an interesting idea, to the rigor of drafting a detailed and reproducible research plan, to the thrill of discovering something new about our universe, to the careful vetting that conclusions must undergo before being accepted by the scientific community. Ideally, students will finish their IRPs more scientifically literate, and we hope they will carry this experience with them as they become the next generation of leaders and policymakers in our city, state, nation, and world.