JUNE 25, 2004 | It’s official – summer is finally here, school is out, and for most kids, the last thing on their minds right now is learning how to solve a physics formula. But for the kids involved in the Summer Science Discovery Program, the opportunity to learn about physics could mean a chance for a brighter future.
The Summer Science Discovery Program (SSDP) is a non-profit science enrichment program for disadvantaged children in
Participants in the educational program are between the ages of five and 12 and are from 14 counties in
Raymond André Watson, SSDP director and community outreach coordinator for the
During the eight-week program, which started in early June and continues throughout July, college students, medical students and classroom teachers work with Museum of Discovery staff members to teach exciting lessons in subjects such as chemistry, anatomy, biology and physics that include presentations, laboratory experiments and tours of the museum.
So how exactly does a person explain the laws of physics to a five-year-old? Watson said the purpose of the classes is to introduce students to the basics of science in a stimulating way that engages their attention.
“We teach them by demonstrating exciting experiments and science tricks,” he explained. “We show them how sound travels, how to build a bridge, how to dissect a goat’s heart and a sheep’s brain. When you’re introduced to science at an early age, it makes it easier to understand subjects like chemistry and physics when you get into college.” He added that the students are separated into different age groups and the lessons are tailored for each group.
“I think it’s extremely important to teach science to a diverse group of students because in the end it improves diversity in the health care workforce and diversity has been shown to improve patient care,” Watson said. “Illness doesn’t see color or creed – medicine needs all of us. I feel strongly that the kids we see today in this program will be treating us in the future. It’s up to us to teach them now.”
Each day begins at 7:30 a.m. The children gather at the
Watson and the SSDP staff have several goals for the program, the first of which includes finding more money to keep the program running. “The grant from the Rockefeller Foundation expires in 2005, so right now we are seeking additional funding so that we can continue our endeavors for the next 10 years,” he said.
He said he would like SSDP to continue for 20 more years so that the staff can adequately measure the success of the program by tracking each student from the time the student begins the program to the time the student graduates from high school.
Watson said the staff currently evaluates the success of the program by giving the students a pre-test and a post-test to assess their interests in science and math. “Usually, we notice that their interest in science is higher after they have attended the program. The tests also show that there is definitely a need for this program.”
Other goals include expanding the program to reach students from all 75 counties in
Links on This Page
© 2004 University of