The BASIS.ed
Senior Projects 2017

The Senior Project at BASIS D.C. is a selective program that involves an off-campus research project or internship of the students’ choice and design. Students select a BASIS.ed faculty member as their advisor and work with a mentor at their selected research site. These projects may be completed anywhere in the world. At the end of the trimester, students return to campus and present an analysis of their findings to peers, staff, and parents.

BASIS D.C. is one of 10 BASIS Curriculum Schools participating in the 2017 BASIS.ed Senior Project Program. To view the details of a specific project, select a student below.

See all BASIS Senior Projects

Ben D.

Social Media, the 2016 Election, and Hyperreality: A Contextual Analysis of Baudrillard's Theory of Simulation

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Ben D.

Social Media, the 2016 Election, and Hyperreality: A Contextual Analysis of Baudrillard's Theory of Simulation

BASIS advisor: Ms. Jennifer Hamnett
Internship location: Campaign Office of Gene Rossi
Onsite Mentor: Mr. Scott Remley, Campaign Manager and General Consultant
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Many people are trying to make sense of how Donald Trump managed to win the presidency. Some say the election was a reaction against the political establishment and globalization. Others say Clinton’s flaws as a candidate are primarily to blame. While it’s fair to say that many different factors played a role in the outcome, this project seeks to explore a less traditional avenue. The philosophy of Jean Baudrillard (1929-2007) can be crudely summarized by his quote from 1981’s Simulacra and Simulation: “We live in a world where there is more and more information, and less and less meaning.” Baudrillard argued that the proliferation of signs, images, and media paradoxically destroys the information that it seeks to represent. The 2016 election certainly saw a proliferation of media coverage, to the point where some joked that the election was Trump’s new reality show. This project seeks to answer the question of how this phenomenon influenced Trump’s ability to win in spite of his being, by traditional measures, a fatally flawed candidate. Additionally, as Baudrillard died before social media became widespread, the project also considers social media as a new lens through which to evaluate his criticisms of the media. Through a selection of readings by and about Baudrillard, along with the experience of interning on a political campaign to see firsthand how candidates manage their media presence, this project will dissect the 2016 election through the lens of postmodern criticism.

Helena T.

Experiencing the World Through Our Hands

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Helena T.

Experiencing the World Through Our Hands

BASIS advisor: Ms. Lindsay Schniepp
Internship location: University of Pennsylvania Presbyterian Hospital and Red Fern Art Studio
Onsite Mentor: Dr. Carrie Sims; Mr. Carl Fougerousse, Medical Director of Dulles 6 Surgical Unit; Studio Founder
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Does working with our hands have a place in society, or are these jobs simply waiting to be replaced by technology? Machines seem to be the center of society. Screens entertain and are used to manage huge swaths of day-to-day activities; however, even now many people still devote their lives to working mostly with their hands and producing results with a skilled craft. Surgeons and artists serve as two examples of this: surgery on the more practical side and artistry on the more expressive side. By asking questions and speaking to professionals in their own working environments, such as the University of Pennsylvania Presbyterian Hospital and the Red Fern Art Studio, it is possible to grasp why someone might choose to work in a field which requires hand use and what benefits they reap from it. I hope to show that both the process and the results give people substantial satisfaction in their profession. Additionally, whether or not technology should replace the human element will be explored in order to evaluate the degree to which eliminating hand use in these fields would be a detriment to society, despite technology created to replace it.

Ilana D.

Mapping Venus' Geologic Activity

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Ilana D.

Mapping Venus' Geologic Activity

BASIS advisor: Ms. Maya Barlev
Internship location: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
Onsite Mentor: Dr. Jennifer Whitten, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies
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Of all the explorations of the inner rocky planets in our solar system, there has been the longest gap in time between the missions to Venus. Venus, however, has many features similar to those on Earth. Learning more about Venus can tell us more about our own atmosphere, global warming, and volcanoes. This research project will be looking at crater ejecta primarily located in tesserae, or rough and deformed parts of Venus’s surface, with the goal of discovering why the planet’s surface appears to be young with relatively few craters. Also, as impacts are made by projectiles hitting Venus’s surface, the older underlying material is revealed, allowing us to examine older parts of the planet and to learn more about its formation. The predominant theory is volcanic re-surfacing, or warm material rising up from below and smoothing out the surface. This project will investigate Venus through the radar satellite images taken by the Magellan mission. Using the geographical mapping system ArcGIS and large printed photographs of the planet, it will be possible to see Venus’ surface in more detail and to mark any notable characteristics. Venus has been frequently overlooked by NASA when they choose their missions; previous landers have not lasted longer than two hours on its surface. Successful completion of this project will contribute a path for developing better rover technology, as well as draw more attention to Venus for a possible selection for the mid-2020s New Frontiers mission.

John W.

Modeling the Impact of Ocean Acidification on Marine Biodiversity

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John W.

Modeling the Impact of Ocean Acidification on Marine Biodiversity

BASIS advisor: Dr. Nathaniel Green
Internship location: Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Onsite Mentor: Dr. Laetitia Plaisance, Program Manager of Ocean Sciences
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Anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions initiate a reaction that acidifies ocean water and destroys corals, which also destroys marine coral reef ecosystems. The elimination has a negative effect on marine biodiversity, which can have devastating consequences for both marine and terrestrial life. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History’s Autonomous Reef Monitoring System (ARMS) Unit tracks biodiversity for an ecosystem in New Zealand that was ravaged by ocean acidification. I will use the data collected from specimen counts and the pH of the ocean to conduct a statistical analysis, and then use this extrapolation to make predictions about the future of biodiversity in the ocean. The data will most likely present a strong correlation between the two variables as a decrease in pH will decrease marine biodiversity, and the extrapolation will likely demonstrate that in the future, biodiversity will continue to decrease to dangerously low levels. The results will be used to identify the possible effects on Earth and its inhabitants, which can range from the destruction of human fishing industries to worsening the effects of climate change. This data will help put the destruction of coral reefs into perspective and identify why it is important to address carbon dioxide emissions. The consequences presented by the data can be used to influence lawmakers to make the correct decisions about policies concerning carbon dioxide emissions.

Wisdom H.

Sustainable Living: Timber is Misunderstood

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Wisdom H.

Sustainable Living: Timber is Misunderstood

BASIS advisor: Ms. Christy Colt
Internship location: WDG Architecture
Onsite Mentor: Mr. S.L. Hopkins, Construction Contract Administrator
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Why is timber more efficient to use in framing and cladding compared to steel, a more conventional material? Having a socially, environmentally, and climatically efficient edifice is one of the most important aspects of designing a structure. Using resources at the Building Museum and the professional opinions of architects at WDG Architecture, this project seeks to determine which building materials are the safest, healthiest, and most efficient for urban settings. In my research I hope to prove that timber and other naturally occurring materials will be the best choice in creating skeletons for edifices because of their durability, flexibility, and life-cycle duration.