Friday, March 16, 2012

Celebrating science fair partnerships



MEMORABLE MENTOR: MGHer Karlotta Fitch celebrates her 20th year of mentoring with her mentees, eighth-grader Wendy Gomez, left, and Drumm.


If Santa Claus fell from a rooftop at the same time as someone who weighed significantly less, who would reach the ground first? It’s a question that sparked eighth-grader Alex Drumm’s science fair project on gravity.

The James P. Timilty Middle School youth was one of 54 students paired with an MGH mentor to develop a research project to present at the Roxbury school’s annual science fair, Feb. 6-10. On March 8, students and mentors teamed up again for the 22nd annual recognition ceremony at the STARR Center, honoring the groups for their successful partnerships.

“I want to thank our MGH mentors – without you, no program exists,” said Ellen Reavey, Massachusetts Promise Fellow, who oversaw this year’s mentoring program. “You show the students the importance of caring and have given them a direct example of committing to helping others. I also want to thank the supervisors and colleagues of our mentors. Timilty students feel welcome in our mentors’ departments because of their generosity. Many departments make sacrifices in order to free up time for mentors to work with their students. It does not go unnoticed, and we appreciate it.”

Three MGH mentors received special milestone recognitions – Geena Nisula, senior training specialist in Admitting Services, who has been involved with the partnership for five years; Vincent Riggi, of MGH Respiratory Care Services, for his 15 years of service; and the program’s longest-standing mentor, Karlotta Fitch, administrator of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, who celebrated her 20th anniversary.

“I really enjoy it, it’s fun,” Fitch said. “It’s great to work with the students and figure out what project they’d like to do, and then work with them to decide how to best go about investigating it.”

During the ceremony, special recognition was also given to students who showed excellence in scientific inquiry thanks to having highly original science fair questions – including “What is the effect of a Fresnel lens on an infrared motion detector’s performance?” and “What is the effect of sound-cancelling tiles on sound waves?” Additional awards were given to students who showed outstanding ingenuity and flexibility during the program.

This year 16 of the Timilty students with MGH mentors were among the 21 Timilty seventh- and eighth-graders selected to compete at the March 10 Boston Citywide Science Fair at Northeastern University.

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