'Hour of Science' Expands
By Gerri Adams-Simmons
Alice Deal Junior High School and NIH are developing a substantive and beneficial partnership; the school was adopted by the NIH Office of the Director last June and the two entitites have worked together successfully ever since. NIH acting director Dr. Ruth Kirschstein, acting deputy director Dr. Yvonne Maddox, deputy director for intramural research Dr. Michael Gottesman and OD EEO Manager Hilda Dixon recently attended an "Hour of Science" presentation and luncheon prepared by Deal students.
In just 6 months, the partnership has led to a series of events and meetings involving NIH offices and staff who have volunteered time, talents and equipment. The OD personnel office hired Deal student Katie Compton for the summer.
"Personnel was so impressed with her that Katie is coming back to work with them during the holidays and winter break," Dixon stated.
Also during the summer, Dr. Philip Chen of the NIH Office of Intramural Research and Dave Wiszneauckas and Sue O'Boyle of the Office of Information Technology met with teachers at the school to determine ways to assist them in improving their science labs and integrating computers more fully into the Deal curriculum. OIT then prepared surplus computers for operation. The equipment was contributed by the Office of Extramural Research and Office of Equal Opportunity.
In a recent PTA meeting, Gottesman said, "We hope to be able to enhance the school's educational programs in science as best we can, inform students about career opportunities in the health sciences, provide specific education about health issues, and provide resources such as computers and computer support, and appropriate surplus equipment. For the NIH, this is a chance to expose an outstanding and diverse student body to the mission of the NIH, the opportunities available in government service, and the possibility of a career in biomedical research and/or administration."
The school's Career Day featured several NIH'ers, including former Deal student Rich Drury (OD), Dr. Christopher Taylor (NIAID), Dr. Ted Blakeney (NICHD) and Judit Camacho (NIGMS). NIH Medical Arts and Photography Branch staffers Alice Hardy and Gene Moseley visited the school's Video Production and Filmmaking class, showed a video on NIH and talked with students who are scheduled to visit the MAPB office this month; interactive workshops are scheduled to follow.
During the most recent "Hour of Science," science department students gave several presentations: cooperative learning workstations displayed robotics and automation; flight technology; light and fiber optics; bridge engineering; rocketry and space; extraction of DNA (onion cells and bacteria); gel electrophoresis; computer lab Powerpoint presentation on the structure of DNA; transcription analysis and restriction enzyme analysis.
Kirschstein and Maddox were particularly impressed with Josh Perlis' DNA experiment. "Dr. Kirschstein and I recognized the level and quality of the experiment and we found that very inspiring," Maddox said.
Gottesman concluded, "It was an extremely valuable and enjoyable visit. The students are highly motivated and extremely involved in their science studies. The teachers are skilled and creative in their approaches and the school leadership has created a nurturing and open environment for intellectual growth. I am sure that all of the NIH visitors came away with the impression that this would be a very useful partnership and all of us had some ideas as to how we could help."
The NIH team dined on a tasty lunch prepared by students in the department of family and consumer sciences' foods and nutrition classes; the meal was served at the "Le Deal Cafe."
The hour of science also spread to other school departments: video production and filmmaking students Aaron Laporte and Brandon Lyles recorded the NIH visit, parts of which will be included in the Alice Deal student newspaper.
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