$210,000 Grant Will Benefit Local Teachers, Students Through UR Outreach Programs

January 19, 1999

A $210,000 grant awarded recently to the University of Rochester Medical Center for community outreach programs is building relationships among University scientists, high school teachers and students through mentoring initiatives, science equipment purchases and funding for a summer camp.

The grant, to be received over three years, is a Science Education Partnership Award given by the National Institutes of Health, said Dina G. Markowitz, Ph.D., assistant professor of environmental medicine and director of community outreach and education programs for the Environmental Health Sciences Center at URMC.

The funding will provide tuition assistance for some of the 40 or so high school students who attend the annual Summer Science Academy. The camp is staffed in part by four high school science teachers, whose salaries will be paid for with a portion of the NIH funding. In addition, equipment and supplies will be purchased not only for use during the summer session, but also for the teachers’ use in their own classrooms when the academic year begins, Markowitz said.

"This is our first grant targeting high school students," Markowitz said. "It will help students who want to attend the Academy, and bring into the classroom hands-on activities, many of which are expensive to do."

The grant also will fund an annual conference for area teachers, who will learn how to develop partnerships with local scientists through networking and curriculum development, said Jan A. Moynihan, associate professor of psychiatry, microbiology and immunology, who was the principal investigator for the grant.

"We need to have a way to bring teachers up to speed, particularly in the area of molecular biology," Moynihan said. "This is an attempt to keep teachers up to date by developing relationships with faculty, who are at the forefront of their fields of study."

The Saturday Morning Science Series, which offers faculty lectures for high school students, also will be supported by the NIH grant, Markowitz said. In addition, money will go to other initiatives, including one that pairs fourth- and fifth-graders at Clara Barton School No. 2 in Rochester with Medical Center faculty mentors.

Other outreach programs offered by URMC include a summer science camp for middle school students, and the Science Ambassador Program, an initiative that welcomes students from Monroe Middle and Nathaniel Rochester schools into Medical Center laboratories to take part in hands-on science activities. The students then share their findings with classmates at their home school.

Outreach activities are funded through grants from various organizations and companies, including the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Wyeth-Lederle Vaccines and Pediatrics, and Amgen.

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Karin Christensen
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