Laguna Beach High School (LBHS) students in the Authentic Exploratory Research (AER) program presented their final projects last week in a walk-through symposium. The AER independent research course, adapted and inspired by Palo Alto Unified School District, has given students the opportunity to explore their passions and future career pathways through their own driving questions and curiosities alongside adult mentors in their respective fields who have helped guide each mentee in their research and analysis.
The Authentic Exploratory Research (AER) Program is an independent research course in which students propose their own driving questions in order to explore their passions and career pathways in a variety of fields. Our program is inspired by Palo Alto Unified School Districts highly successful Advanced Authentic Research program.
Students are matched with adult mentors to aid in their research and analysis. Mentors include LBHS staff, Industry experts or leaders, and university-level academics. Students can conduct their projects through various approaches including internships, action projects, and academic research, all of which culminate in an end-of-the-year publication and symposium. Students are expected to spend about 60 hours per semester on coursework, roughly half of which are on the project itself and the other half on instruction, reflection, organization, and other weekly tasks.
Throughout their experience in the AER program, students will learn essential academic skills in preparation for post-secondary education, such as research, argumentation, critical thinking; as well as life and career skills, such as time management, communication, professionalism, and organization.