Senior Presents on Year-long Study on Quantum Mechanics

At Parker, talented teachers create transformational opportunities to stretch students beyond their current achievements and points of view, allowing them to learn through attentive reflection and open conversation. A perfect example of this belief in action is the Independent Study program. Beginning in their junior year, students may elect to design and develop unique courses that dive deeper into areas that especially pique their interests. During either a semester or a full academic year, students work under the thoughtful supervision of a faculty member to plan and execute a course tailored to their exact interest.

Recently, senior Grant Koh invited the community to a lunchtime presentation where he discussed what he has been studying during his own year-long Independent Study with both Upper School Math teacher Chris Riff and Science teacher Xiao Zhang.

When asked about this process, Koh shared the following.

“My independent study was on quantum mechanics. Last year, I was a student in Mr. Zhang’s Physics 2 class and also did an Independent Study with him on electricity and magnetism. This meant that this year, while I wanted to continue with the subject, there weren’t any Parker courses that would serve as natural extensions, so I found the two courses on MIT OpenCourseware following mechanics and electricity and magnetism, namely waves and oscillations followed by quantum mechanics, and did one-semester independent studies on each with Dr. Riff and Mr. Zhang.

Every week, I'd watch around two lectures on the OpenCourseware website and do any accompanying problem sets. Every Thursday afternoon, I’d meet with Mr. Zhang and Dr. Riff to discuss what I’d learn, my solutions to the problems, etc. These meetings were very useful in ensuring I could talk about the concepts concisely, and it was fun to hear about the experiences of Mr. Zhang and Dr. Riff studying these subjects themselves. Towards the end, we chose a topic that we thought would be somewhat appealing to a broader audience (quantum computing), so I decided to focus my presentation on that.

It’s been really fun to do these independent studies and continue learning physics. It was particularly enjoyable to see how the mathematics I’ve been learning in other independent studies was put to use here.”

Parker could not be more proud of Koh, both for all of his hard work and for his ability to find his voice as a student and work as an active participant in creating his own educational journey!

Take a look at photos from Koh’s presentation here.
Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.