A summer program sponsored and hosted by Brandeis University for high school students.

The most prestigious part of the program is the Science Research Internship part of BSO, in which 15-20 students from around the country are selected to work with different Brandeis professors in their research endeavors.  The fields of research include psychology, political science, biology, chemistry, computer science, and just about everything else under the sun.  It's an eight week program, culminating in writing a research paper based on the summer's work and presenting it in front of the administrators of the program, various professors, and the other interns.  Many of the SRIs have gone on to become Semifinalists and Finalists in the Westinghouse Science Talent Search (recently changed to Intel), to get their work published, and achieve various other accolades.

(I was an SRI in 1997, working in Dr. Michael Kahana's memory/computer science laboratory.  My Westinghouse Semifinalist paper based on the summer's work was entitled Associative Symmetry: An Examination of the Representation of Associations in Human Memory, in case you're interested.)

There are three or four other programs in the BSO besides the Science Research Internship, all of which last for a shorter period of time (four weeks) and are much less intensive.  They include doing some research in groups, taking classes, and various other survey activities designed to give the participants a "taste" of college or research.

As terrific as the research aspect of the summer was, the administration of the program was downright awful.  Members of the opposite sex were not allowed to be in each other's dorm rooms unless the door was open, and certainly not after the strict 11 PM curfew.  I heard that in the year preceding mine, the male and female dorms were directly across from each other.  So, they'd stand in front of their windows (boys and girls, I might add) completely naked, in silent protest of the rules.

There were also incredibly stupid group activities almost every night--manditory activities.  Many of these were lectures in various academic fields, but these were so basic and mundane to the point of condescension that we really were offended to be required to go to them.  My mentor worked me hard, and I'd skip some of the activities not because I didn't want to go, but because I was sometimes still in the lab working until 11 or 12 o'clock at night.  I'd then get in trouble for skipping them, due to the fact that "the social activities are an integral part of the Brandeis Summer Odyssey experience."  Oh.  Excuse me.  I had been under the impression that I was there to do award-winning research, not listen to an idiot biologist explain mitosis and meiosis.  Then comes the rationale that "You should be able to get your work done during the day like the other 150 students," conveniently ignoring the fact that the other 150 non-SRI students' work is several orders of magnitude less difficult than mine, that there are 10 students that skipped the lecture sitting in front of you, and that every one of them is an SRI.

They claimed they wanted us to produce and do good research ("to uphold the prestigious standards of the program"), and then they promptly put their feet in their mouths by forcing us to take time away from our research in about ten different ways (all equally stupid).

But I did get a hell of a research project done out of it and a ton of experience, and I'd do all again in an instant.

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