The Office of Science Education joined forces with area leaders
in science education to offer a new program aimed at helping minority
and underserved high school students and their parents to consider
careers in science and plan ahead. The program, SciLife 2006, was
a 1-day Saturday event held in April at the Carnegie Institution
in Washington, D.C. Development took over a year, and the program
was modeled after the highly successful Biomedical Science Careers
Program sponsored by Harvard Medical School in Boston.
|Mr. and Mrs. Terry Coulette, Sr., brought
their son to the day-long workshop.
SciLife 2006 provided area students and their parents with free
information, resources and organizational tools to help them plan
for college entry and future success in the health and medical
sciences. After a joint information session and lunch, parents
and students chose separate workshops geared toward their interests.
These focused on such practical topics as choosing high school
courses that are pivotal for college entry, exploring career options
in the health and medical sciences and selecting a college. Workshops
for parents focused on topics like financing an education, ways
to help their child succeed in school and the process of college
OSE's Cassandra Isom said, "It was a great success." Addressing
the reluctance of participants to conclude one session in order
to attend the next, "We had to stop the questions. People were
that engaged," she noted. A survey of participants revealed that
the program reached the target audience, delivered what students
expected and influenced decisions about their education and future
careers. Of the students completing the survey, 97 percent indicated
that they were 9th graders of a minority ethnic background. The
top three reasons students came to the program were to learn how
to plan for college, choose a career and finance an education.
Ninety percent indicated that the program either met or exceeded
their expectations and increased their understanding of how to
prepare for college.
|Janelle Kawamoto of MDBio, Inc., gives a
workshop on exploring health careers.
Survey data also revealed that 43 percent of SciLife students
indicated that they were more likely to take additional advanced
placement science and math courses after participating in the program.
That is good news considering that minority students are underrepresented
among students who take AP courses. This puts them at a disadvantage
for entering certain career paths, such as those in the medical
The issue was addressed in the SciLife workshop for students, "All
You Ever Wanted to Know About Medical School," led by Georgetown
University's Joy Williams. Erin Farrish, a first-year medical student
at Georgetown, told students, "AP courses are a great way to prepare
yourself for college courses. Take advantage of these classes offered
at your high school to better prepare yourself for the college
workload and possibly earn college credit."
One student said of the workshop on exploring careers, "It helped
me understand where I am in comparison to where I want to be." Another
wrote, "After this program, I know that I have a lot of careers
to choose from." A third student had a message for program organizers: "Thank
you for a great opportunity...I am really glad that someone out
there like you guys cares about students like us."