The University of Cincinnati (UC) has received nearly $700,000 from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to support a series of science enrichment programs for middle and high school students and science teachers.
The funding comes from a $22.5 million HHMI initiative aimed at closing the gap between research institutions and their local communities by supporting educational programs that stimulate interest in science, particularly among young students.
UC will use the funding to continue three programs:
ExSEL (Excellence in Science Education and Learning)—a five-week basic science summer research program designed for gifted and talented high school juniors and seniors interested in careers in medicine or biomedical science.
Saturday Science Academy—a year-round science-enrichment program for Cincinnati Public Schools seventh- and eighth-grade students and their parents/guardians that offers hands-on experience with biomedical and biological science in a medical microbiology lab and classroom.
Teachers’ Initiative: Program in Biomedical Research—an eight-week summer laboratory research experience for six middle and high school science teachers in the Cincinnati area.
Roberta Handwerger, director of recruitment programming and K–12 outreach for UC College of Medicine, hopes to extend the funding to support two new initiatives—an expansion of the ExSEL program that would bring a select group of ExSEL students back to campus for a summer research experience at UC and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and a “science on wheels” program, which would take science lessons to third- through sixth-grade Cincinnati Public Schools students.
“We’re very grateful that we can continue to provide science programming in our community,” says Handwerger. “And if we can add to these programs, we believe we can reach a larger audience and educate them on the importance of science and the many opportunities for students interested in this field.”
UC has consistently received HHMI support for its science-enrichment programs since 1994, when the university was first awarded funding for the Teachers’ Initiative and Saturday Science Academy. Now in its 14th year, Saturday Science continues to attract students, many of whom have gone on to higher education for careers in science-related fields. The ExSEL program was added in 2000.
UC is one of 31 institutions receiving funding from HHMI through this outreach initiative. A total of 297 institutions were invited to submit proposals for the outreach grants through a competition announced last year. HHMI received 127 proposals from institutions in 42 states for review by a panel of leading scientists and educators.
Since 1988, HHMI has awarded about $1.5 billion in grants. Ten of this year’s awardees—UC included—received an HHMI grant during the institute’s 2003 community outreach competition.
For more information about UC’s science enrichment programs, call Handwerger at (513) 558-0693 or visit the summer programs link at www.med.uc.edu. Learn more about HHMI at www.hhmi.org.