Friday, March 11, 2011

MGH mentors and their students celebrate science fair success

SCIENTISTS AND FRIENDS: Grant, left, and Moscato at the recognition ceremony

MARCH 5 WAS AN EXCITING DAY for budding young scientists who competed in a Boston Public Schools citywide science fair. Of the many students participating, 18 were mentored by MGH employees through the MGH Center for Community Health Improvement (CCHI) Science Fair Mentoring Program. CCHI celebrated the work of all 60 MGH mentors and their 52 James P. Timilty Middle School students during the 21st Annual Science Fair Mentoring Recognition Ceremony on March 4, the day before the citywide fair.

Through the mentoring program, MGHers guide and advise Timilty seventh- and eighth-graders as they develop science projects. The pairs meet biweekly at the hospital, and their collaborations culminate with science fairs held at school, city and state levels. Of the 18 students who went on from the school fair to compete at the city level, five will be participating in the state science fair in June.

The appreciation event featured remarks from a number of individuals involved in the program, including Rantimi Oluwasegun, a Massachusetts Promise Fellow; Christyanna Egun, director of MGH Youth Programs; Ronald Spratling, a retired Boston Public School principal; Robert Cho, a science teacher from Timilty and former MGH employee; and some of the students themselves. Each student and mentor pair also received a certificate to commemorate their completion of the program.

In addition, mentors celebrating a fifth and tenth year anniversary with the program received special acknowledgement for their service. Nancy Balch, PharmD, of MGH Pharmacy, and Allan Dolinksi, of Environmental Services, were honored for ten years. Joan Brown, of the Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, and Aileen Shen, of Pediatric Services, were recognized for reaching the five-year mark.

“These young adults are our nation's future leaders,” says Dolinski. “I truly appreciate the importance of providing them with a quality education in science during their formative years, as my wife and I raised three children, and two of them are now scientists.”

A total of 60 mentors from 24 departments participated in the program this year. While many mentors have been involved with the program for a long time – some for more than 20 years – others, like Lauren Moscato, of the MGH Cancer Center Protocol Office, participated for the first time. Moscato recently completed a master’s program and decided she wanted to use her extra time to volunteer. Shamia Grant, the seventh-grade student with whom she worked, is glad she did.

“I like science when I’m with her,” says Grant. “She makes it fun!”

Fortunately, Moscato and Grant’s mentoring relationship does not end with the completion of their science project. Because of a new collaboration between the MGH/Timilty Partnership and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay, their relationship will continue throughout the summer as they meet regularly for activities and events.

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