Upper School Science Honors Students Simulate COVID-19 Antibody Testing Process

The Upper School’s research methods of life science honors class offers the opportunity to experience the challenge and reward of scientific research through case studies and hands-on wet labs.

Their latest unit dives into the world’s most urgent scientific challenge—the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Students are developing the skills needed to search for and read scientific publications, and have dived into literature around the novel coronavirus published by the New England Journal of Medicine soon after the virus became known. 

“We use a case-study model to introduce a concept, problem or scenario, much like medical schools and many business schools use,” Upper School science teacher Jennifer Ross-Viola said. 

Students also had the opportunity to conduct a simulated lab test to determine if patients have formed antibodies to the SARS-CoV2 virus—an indication that they had the virus recently. The lab involves using micropipettors to test samples from two hypothetical patients, and record observations and findings in their laboratory notebook. 

It’s an opportunity for hands-on insight on the most impactful work scientists are doing at the moment. 

“Students are using the ELISA antibody test, and have run a simulated diagnostic test on Patient 1 and Patient 2 trying to determine if they test positive or negative for the antibodies,” Dr. Ross-Viola said. 

The semester-long upper-level course is directed at students who are considering majoring in science or participating in undergraduate research in college and is invaluable preparation for those experiences.  
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