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August 2007 Issue

ExSEL student Kathy Chu gets a whiff of two forms (enantiomers) of carvone— a compound commonly found in essential oils.
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Science-Enrichment Programs Receive Boost

Published August 2007

Are you a “super taster?”

Are you one of the 30 percent of the population who can smell the chemical that comes from wild boar musk? Can you tell what color M&M you’re eating just by the taste?

Students in UC’s Excellence in Science Education and Learning (ExSEL) program got answers to these questions and many more during a Friday session focused on the biology of the senses—smell and taste, that is.

And now, even more students will get to learn—in a fun way—about important science through the ExSEL program and other science-enrichment courses.

UC has received nearly $700,000 from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to support its series of science programming for middle and high school students and 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—a five-week basic science Science-Enrichment Programs Receive Boost 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 eightweek 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 the 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 sixthgrade Cincinnati Public Schools students.

“We’re very grateful that we can continue to provide science pro- UC Awarded $700,000 to Support Science Programming for Middle and High School Students and Teachers programming in our community,”
says Handwerger. “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 scienceenrichment 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. For more information, visit the summer programs link at

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