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Examined Life

Program Overview

AFS Examined Life is a 3-week residential summer experience designed for rising high school juniors and seniors with an interest in laboratory research and the world of science. Perrotis College, housed on the lush campus of the American Farm School, provides a dynamic environment for academic and personal exploration. The AFS Examined Life summer program is for the student that wants to challenge him/herself in the life sciences, hone laboratory skills, or delve into specialized topics such as animal husbandry and the science of Omega-3 eggs.

The College laboratories and Educational Farm are the ideal settings to broaden horizons and gain hands-on experience in applied research, while exploring the exciting world of STEM. Every research project is inspiring and leads to real-life results.

AFS Examined Life was created to provide creative students with hands-on experience in the real world of science.  Participants will learn to observe a phenomenon, construct a hypothesis, test the hypothesis, gather results, analyze data and draw conclusions, and communicate results pertaining to the phenomenon, the framework of the Scientific Method.  Participants of AFS Examined Life will be equipped with the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience of actual research scholars, promoting the confidence to succeed in the vast areas of STEM either on their own or in a team.

​The Examined Life Summer Program Eligibility

Students must be entering 11th or 12th grades of high school in fall 2017 and must demonstrate interest in scientific research in chemistry and/or biology, and a drive to learn! Applicants must be proficient in English as the program is taught entirely in English.

Research Themes

AFS Examined Life is beneficial to students’ own academic journies by exposing students to guided independent research. Before arrival, each participant selects a mentor and a research topic that promotes a deeper understanding of the larger subject in question.

Sample topics include:

  • The Science of Cooking and The Maillard Reaction: How do different combinations of proteins and sugars affect scent molecules?
  • Microbiology: What kinds of foods have antimicrobial properties and why?
  • Chemistry Applications: Why is oxidation important with respect to food and what are the best ways to prevent or slow it?
  • Molecular Biology: Are there macromolecules within objects that we are largely unaware of and are they malignant?

During the program students develop a greater appreciation and understanding for the field they explore. They will gain the ability to look at larger problems and concepts, dissect them, understand them and gain knowledge from them. Depending on the project, students could become masters in food preservation, organic agriculture, toxins or disease.

Working in our cutting edge laboratory facilities, students learn to ask scientific questions, gather data, and interpret results for direct application towards their project and in the real world. At the end of the program, students present their research at a symposium by creating posters or presentations. Through teamwork and skill-based seminars, students gain the essential skills needed for disseminating successful research – from writing and developing a research paper, to presenting results for audiences of peers, professionals, and community. Our dedicated and experienced teaching staff will be there to advise each student individually throughout the whole process.

Not only is this experience saturated with amazing scientific opportunity, but also the research aspect makes this a great opportunity for students in IB programs across the globe to complete their extended essay!

Student Life

Boarding students of AFS Examined Life will live in residence halls on the AFS campus with their fellow participants. They will have breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the AFS campus, with occasional meals downtown. This is a great opportunity to get a feel for real college life by living like a college student.

And since time in Greece is not complete without engaging cultural experiences, together we’ll retrace the 2,600 year history of Thessaloniki, conquer Mt. Olympus - home of the gods, before sailing the Aegean Sea to explore some of the 6,000 islands that make up this beautiful country!

There will be daily evening and weekend activities incorporated into the program which include but are not limited to:

  • A variety of athletic activities such as basketball, football, tennis, Frisbee, and more!
  • Several dinners at some of the best tavernas in Greece
  • Cultural exploration activities in the heart of downtown Thessaloniki
  • Visits to the Byzantine Museum, The Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, and The Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki
  • A 2-day Mt. Olympus hike
  • A weekend Aegean sailing excursion
  • Yoga and meditation
  • Social activities including ice-breakers, movie nights, a scavenger hunt, games and other indoor activities, and end of session celebration party
  • The Examined Life Summer Olympics including tests of physical ability, mental ability, creativity and teamwork!

Sample Schedule

Our schedule is packed with things to do, balancing high-quality research time, skill-building seminars and fun unforgettable activities! We have outlined below what the academic side of AFS Examined Life will look like on a weekly basis. Also included is an example of what one day during the first week might look like.

Week 1:

  • Introduction to the laboratory and proper use of lab equipment, laboratory etiquette, and improvement of writing skills needed for comprehensive science reports
  • Develop research skills (using both online and library sources, proper citation)
  • Explore in-depth your independent research topic with advisor

Week 2:

  • Apply skills learned in first week to independent research project
  • Learn proper format for research papers and presentation materials
  • Conduct research on chosen topic under guidance of your advisor

Week 3:

  • Interpret findings and complete your research paper and presentation poster
  • Practice project presentation
  • End of summer Examined Life Symposium!

Week One Sample Schedule

 8:00-9:00 am


 9:00-11:00 am

Microbiology Essentials Seminar:

Microbes are everywhere! Look at what has grown in our plates. Can you identify the bug? Milk microflora:  How are they affected by pasteurization? Learn sampling techniques, inoculate bacteria, incubate and enumerate them.

 11:15-1:00 pm

Food Preservation Seminar: Preserving food by heat processing

 1:00-2:00 pm

Lunch Break

 2:00-4:00 pm   

Theory to Practice: Look at enzyme function of vegetables affected by heat using a spectrophotometer. Compare their color with a chromatometer and their mechanical properties with a texture analyzer.

 4:15 pm

Pack your swimsuit and get ready for an amazing weekend in the Aegean!

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