SUPERLAB: A Haverford Tradition
Superlab is a testament to the collaborative spirit in which the KINSC was conceived and brings together professors from differing research areas, and sometimes different departments, to team teach a stand-alone laboratory course dedicated to solving real world problems.
Superlab serves as a great bonding experience for its participants. Though students report spending up to 20 hours a week in the laboratory and rate it as one of the most challenging courses they’ve taken, most also rate it as the best course they’ve taken.
Teaching the lab in a stand-alone format and not requiring that each lab be keyed to a particular set of lectures allows students to explore four problems per year alongside an experienced scientist with expertise in a specific sub-discipline. Students are taught to be independent and are then entrusted with the means to be so. Outside the formal laboratory periods, students have 24-hour access to the laboratories and ancillary equipment rooms.
Faculty teach what they know and close faculty-student relationships are developed over the long hours spent in lab together. The availability of excellent equipment, along with carefully designed experiments allow each student to work with state-of-the-art technology to answer the experimental question posed at the beginning of the lab.
In addition to designing and conducting their own experiments, students develop excellent record-keeping skills and learn how to present their findings clearly in both written and oral form. Students present their results as a poster, talk or paper at the end of each seven-week section. Students who have completed Superlab are in demand around the region as summer research interns, and post-graduation as research assistants after graduation.
Superlab prepares students to take on the high-level research required of all senior science majors.
Professor Mel Santer was the first to teach Superlab in 1964