Hooking Kids on Science
you old enough to remember when Don Herbert's "Mr. Wizard"
television show that aired Saturday mornings?
If so, you're definitely
a baby boomer. But more importantly, it was a wonderful way to introduce
the world of science to grade school children.
In his book "Mr.
Wizard's Experiments for Young Scientists," Herbert defines science
as "the systematic investigation and explanation of the world around
us." Although science is divided into major fields such as biology,
chemistry and physics, Herbert believes everything is interrelated.
He wrote, "The world itself has no such boundaries."
Following this lead,
The University of North Carolina at Pembroke presents its own Saturday
morning programs, not on television, but "live" in the laboratories
of the Oxendine Science Building.
The project is called "Mr. and Ms. Wizard" and is part of
the larger Pathway to Health Professions Careers Program . Shelia Brayboy,
UNCP's director of Health Careers Opportunity Program, is the project
mission is to increase the number of students applying to and completing
health professions programs. The Pathway program begins with activities
at the middle school level and continues through health professions
Students at different
levels along the educational pathway are exposed to academic and nonacademic
enrichment activities during the summer and academic year.
This exposure will
develop their awareness of health professions, increase their motivation
through exploration, strengthen their readiness and preparedness to
pursue a pre-health and health professions curriculum in college.
The students participating
in UNCP's "Mr. and Ms. Wizard Program" are sixth graders from
area schools. Although the program has begun, middle school students
interested in taking part in the program should call Ms. Brayboy at
910.521.6590 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A NEW ELEMENT
At a recent session
of "Mr. and Ms. Wizard," the young scientists were welcomed
back to campus by Dr. Jose D'Arruda, chair of the UNCP Chemistry and
Physics Department. D'Arruda is working with Ms. Brayboy on the project
and is coordinating the instruction.
objective is to get the kids hooked on science," explained Dr.
D'Arruda. "Studies from the National Science Foundation and other
foundations show that students get turned off of science early, so we
want to overcome that by getting them hooked on science. A new element
of the larger federal grant, the Pathways program is for the sixth graders
to learn mathematics and computer science, biology, chemistry and physics
while their minds are still wide open and they wouldn't be considered
a geek for studying science.
Dr. D'Arruda explained
that Ms. Brayboy visited the schools in Robeson County and met with
teachers and guidance counselors. One of the selling points is that
the program is free to the kids. "All they have to do is get themselves
up early," Dr. D'Arruda said.
The students meet
from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. every other Saturday. They are divided
into four groups: Einstein, Newton, Pasteur and Curie. Each teaching
group has a UNCP faculty member and an assistant.
The students then
spend an hour on each of the four disciplines. Hands-on learning is
one key to the program. This day the topics included learning to use
microscopes, learning about cancer cells, radioactive decay, the Internet
and conducting chemistry experiments.
The program's primary
teachers are Dr. Tom Dooling (physics) assisted by Matt Perkins; Dr.
Siva Mandjiny (chemistry) with Carolyn Parsons, Dr. Velinda Woriax (biology)
and Gale Sampson; and Ms. Mary Klinikowski (mathematics & computer
science) with Paul Locklear.
Akea Rowdy, 11,
is a 6th grade student at Townsend Middle. She was a member of the Pasteur
group. "I was always interested in science," she said.
"I would like
to go to UNCP and study science," Akea said. "Then, I want
to go to medical school and be a pediatrician."
Deidre Jones, a 6th grader from Rowland Middle School and a member of
the Curie group, said she enjoys learning the different areas of science.
"We do the experiments, and we learn by doing," she explained.
Pasteur group member
Christopher Bryant, 12, is from Red Springs Middle School. "Most
of the time it's easy to get up early to come here," he said. "I'd
rather be here learning than home watching television because it helps
with my future. I'm thinking about being a doctor or an engineer. This
program helps me think more about them."
Carroll Middle School's
Chandler Bullock, 12, is in the Einstein group. "Today we're blowing
up stuff," Chandler said with a grin. "It's salt with crackers
and acid," he explained. "I'm good in math and science, but
you don't have to be good in math and science to be interested in them.
I'm glad I'm here!"
Brianna Bake attends St. Paul's Middle School. She is in the Curie group.
"I really want to be a physical therapist or a journalist,"
she said. "When my guidance counselor recommended I come here,
I said 'yes.' Actually, this has exceeded my expectations."
For more information
about enrolling in the Mr. and Ms. Wizard Program, contact Sheila Brayboy
at 910.521.6590 or email@example.com.
to University Newswire