SSR enrollment exceeds limit

Chronicle Staff

By Sammy Roth

Forty-seven students enrolled for 30 spots in next year’s Studies in Scientific Research class, forcing SSR teacher Antonio Nassar to turn away some applicants.

SSR, which until last year was a directed studies class, cannot accommodate more than 30 students because there is not enough space in the SSR classroom, Nassar said. But that had never been an issue, as enrollment had never before surpassed 30.

Nassar said he tried to get an “overall picture” of the SSR applicants before choosing who would get in. He asked all applicants to write two paragraphs discussing what they might want to research in SSR and how they would research it.

“It’s a welcome problem,” Nassar said. “We just wanted to make sure that we were as fair as we could be.”

Nassar based his decisions on the students’ short paragraphs, in addition to assessments from their current science teachers, the sciences classes they have already taken and the number of science classes they have enrolled in for next year. He said that Science Department Head Larry Axelrod and other faculty members helped him make his final decisions.

“We tried to come up with something that we felt was fair, that would reflect, first of all, the students’ genuine interest in the class,” Nassar said.

Nassar attributed the increase in SSR applicants this year to word of mouth.

“We can see that we can get some more interested students, and they come up with something interesting and then they tell other kids, who tell other kids, and the whole process snowballs,” he said.

“I first wanted to enroll in SSR when I saw all the stuff in the SSR classroom as I walked to my Chemistry Honors class in 10th grade,” Joe Green ’11 said, referring to the many SSR experiments in Munger 202. “I think some sort of hype built up about SSR this year.”

Nassar said that he would have liked to accept all 47 applicants, and that he hopes in the future the Science Department can expand its SSR facilities.

“Any serious science student should have the chance to do some research, to be in an unstructured environment so that the student feels in control,” he added. “That helps students mature intellectually.”