SIRS: STEM Inquiry and Research Galore


By Andrea Espino, Staff Writer

Walking into a SIRS class there is a room of students from freshmen to seniors, in groups, typing sounding from one corner and discussion from the other about projects or research they’ve discovered. In SIRS everyday, students are found eager to learn more about the unknown and possibly accomplish a career in the science field.

SIRS stands for STEM Inquiry and Research. It is not a typical “normal class” it is an independent project class  where all the students are working on their own project.

“We have the freedom to conduct our own research, and having the ability to do that in high school is a great privilege,” said junior Ela Kinaci.

This class is taught by chemistry teacher Rachael Swiercz, chemistry teacher Parin Patel and biology teacher Tom Jodelka.

“Students could be working on different aspects of their projects like designing procedures, to creating a materials list, to researching background topics, speaking with mentors from Northwestern and/or presenting the different stages of their presentation,” Patel said.

SIRS is an AP level science elective course offered to all students from Freshmen to Seniors. The course is designed for students who have an interest in science or plan to gain more knowledge about the scientific process.

“The course introduces students to the process through which scientific research is done at graduate level facilities at Northwestern Universtiy,” Patel said.

This school year there are three SIRS classes. The earliest class is an Early Bird and first period. The next class is during the middle of the school day and is a twice a week double period class on Tuesdays and Thursdays periods seven and eight. The last SIRS class is from period nine till after school ending at 3:40pm.

There are 46 students taking this class this year and students who take the SIRS course receive an AP level science elective course credit upon completion with a passing grade.

This course was first brought to Niles West over ten ago by former Niles West teacher Ruth Gleicher and Julieann Villa. They created the course to mimic graduate level research that they both had completed at the University of Chicago and M.I.T. This group has allowed each individual student to be paired up with a phD graduate student at Northwestern University.

“This is a one of a kind partnership  that has been tremendously successful, occasionally leading to jobs for students at Northwestern’s facilities,” Patel said.

“This class is perfect experience for advanced research, something you can’t get in any other science class here at Niles West and doing whatever you can to discover more about the unknown in science,”  Senior Daniel Cudzich said.

Come and take the SIRS course if you are interested in science or if you want achieve a career in that field. Although it isn’t a graduation requirement, it’s a good opportunity for students to take it and get a sneak peak of what their future could look like if they want to go into the science field.