In the 1930s, a Swiss psychologist named Jean Piaget introduced the theory of cognitive development, explaining how children actively construct knowledge and meaning from their experiences. Piaget argued that this exploratory process was a critical component of authentic, lasting learning.
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.
This course combines Career and Technical Education anchor standards and Next Generation Science Standards to provide students with a unique opportunity to explore their own passions in the context of the real world. Students meet with the AER instructor on a weekly basis outside of the regular day schedule in order to receive methodology instruction, complete organizational tasks, and update the instructor on project progress.
Each student or student partnership will be 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.