I recently experience in my own group how well a k12 student can do in a professional research group if he/she is given the proper oportunity. I heard first from my collegue Beatriz Roldan (Associate Professor at UCF-Physics) about the real possibilities of having k12 students involved in the research we do everyday. And she was right!
Two high school students have recently joined my group during the last year.
Austin Coye (second from the left), a high school student from Lake Highland Preparatory School (actually, she was in middle school when she joined our group) is involved in a very exciting research that we carry out in collaboration with Eloy Hernandez (Associate Professor at UCF-Chemistry). She has gained experience on atomic force microscopy… Ok, ok, I know what you are thinking: What an atomic force microscope is? In a few words (I’ll let Austin to explain it to you in a post she is preparing), it is an instrument that allows to see (image) objects of a nanometric size (thousands of times smaller that the smallest object visible with the best optical microscope available in the world). And she has made a lot of interesting research with this microscope and some novel gold nanoparticles that behave as magnets. She will let you know soon about this.
Jesus Paredes (third from the right), who you may already know about, joined our group this Summer and started to do some things with graphene, a 2-dimensional layer (the thickness of a single atom) of carbon atoms presenting fantastic properties, which may change the way we think about future electronic devices. Look into his recent post about graphene. You will see that it is very simple to obtain such a thin layer of atoms. Jesus’s first responsibility is the maintenance and organization of this blog, but he will continue to do some research as well.
So, yes. It is possible to do research now. You do not need to wait until you access to college. Look for the oportunity and take it right away!
Enrique del Barco