Saturday, December 28, 2019

For the Love of Scientific Inquiry

To begin the new year, our student blogger, Noor Rekhi of Greenwich Academy, offers the following highlights from a recent Greenwich Library Oral History Project interview, “Andrew Bramante,” conducted by project volunteer Sally McHale.

Jean P. Moore, OHP blog editor

Noor Rekhi, student blogger

This month we are dedicating our blog to Andrew Bramante, an inspiring and passionate teacher at Greenwich High School. Mr. Bramante has worked at Greenwich High School for fourteen years and is the subject of Heather Won Tesoriero’s book The Class: A Life-Changing Teacher, His World-Changing Kids, and the Most Inventive Classroom in America (2018)The book follows Mr. Bramante with the emphasis on the impact he has had on his students.

Prior to teaching, Mr. Bramante worked as a corporate scientist for firms among the likes of PerkinElmer and Hitachi. He came to Greenwich High School upon the suggestion of friend and fellow teacher Ray Hamilton. While he initially started teaching chemistry, he eventually took over Mr. Hamiliton’s science class, an elective often described as a research lab. The class, a standout by reputation over the years, has garnered its share of awards, but, as Mr. Bramante attests, the attention came largely as a result of the Google Science Fair, won by science class student Olivia Hallisey.

Through his research lab, Mr. Bramante has supported and encouraged the scientific curiosity of his students and has led them to great success. Under his guidance, students have gone on to pursue groundbreaking research in their fields, win the highest award at the Google Science Fairand receive an invitation to the Nobel Prize Ceremony in Stockholm. Students in Mr. Bramante’s class are chosen not for their grades, but for their genuine desire to pursue scientific knowledge. Mr. Bramante chooses students by having them submit project proposals. While students rarely continue with the projects they originally submit, it's the passion that shines through in the proposals that enables their entry to the class.

Mr. Bramante with his science students
The research lab’s open curriculum enables these young scientists to pursue any of their interests, no matter how seemingly complex. Mr. Bramante helps aid their scientific process by offering guidance, researching topics along with them, and securing necessary materials for their work. However, the lessons given in class go beyond science and school; Mr. Bramante fosters a genuine desire for learning within his students, while teaching them necessary life skills and habits of the mind. When describing the elective, Mr. Bramante said of his students that they would “learn how to imagine, create, articulate, all the things that transcend even a science career. Kids that leave this class do all kinds of things, and I’d like to think that they learn how to be a positive force within our society.”

While students in the class have achieved many honors, Mr. Bramante recognizes that their success will be measured not only by accruing accolades, but also by honing a strong work ethic, scientific curiosity, and an aspiration to better the world through their discoveries. He recognizes that learning opportunities arise in all places, in and outside the classroom, and that even failing gives students an opportunity to reflect and aspire to do better. Mr. Bramante’s edifying approach to teaching not only has every student in his class benefitting, but also society, as his creative methods encourage a next generation of scientists to flourish.

Call the Oral History Project office at (203) 622-7945 for more information regarding the interview, “Andrew Bramante” (#2958, March 29, 2019).