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Valeria Lowe-Barehmi, Principal Susan Berglund, Manager, Mass General Hospital, Center for Community Health Improvement, Youth Partnerships The Timilty, one of three middle schools in the Boston Public Schools (BPS) system to receive a state Expanded Learning Time grant, has 656 students, 46 percent Black, 47 percent Latino, 3 percent White, 1 percent Asian, 1 percent Native American and .8 percent Multi-Race, Non-Hispanic, 18 percent Limited English Proficient (for 38 percent of the students their first language is not English), and 23 percent of the students receive special education. Approximately 81 percent of Timilty families are low income and meet the federal guidelines for the subsidized lunch program. The Science Connection Program engages students in scientific inquiry with the long-term goals of increasing science literacy, enhancing student interest in science/health Program StaffJoan McCarthyAlison Antwicareers, and creating opportunities for students to interact with positive adults and mentors. The key elements of the program include, Science Fair Mentoring, Teacher Professional Development, Science in the Classroom, Science Family Activity Nights, and SummerWorks.Science Fair MentoringMGH mentors and Timilty mentees met at Mass General Hospital every other Friday from October to February. Students and mentors worked together to decide on a question that could be answered through scientific investigation. Mentors guided students in setting up experiments, documenting observations, collecting and analyzing data, and preparing for various oral presentations that would defend their investigation.
Timilty Science FairMGH assisted in organizing Timilty’s week-long school-wide science fair effort.
Science in the ClassroomThe Science Connection program continued its collaboration with the MGH Institute of Health Professions (IHP) through the Science in the Classroom initiative. The MGH program manager worked with the IHP Physical Therapy Department to design a curriculum that addressed health concerns for Timilty students and aligned this with the Boston Public School science curriculum standards. The issue of obesity was identified by the school as a health problem. According to data collected by the school nurse, 38 percent of sixth grade students were referred for having BMI’s (Body Mass Index) over 25 (above the 90th percentile according to the CDC growth charts). The numbers for students referred in grades seven and eight were 32 percent and 30 percent, respectively. As a result of this data, 12 students in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at the MGH Institute of Health Professions designed and implemented an obesity prevention program called “We are S.T.R.O. N.G” for 200 Timilty sixth graders for a period for four weeks that included the “STEP UP” program. S.T.R.O.N.G. stood for smart, trained, ready, organized, nutritious, and growing. The main goal of the STRONG program was to raise participants’ awareness about the benefits of staying healthy. The goal of “STEP UP” was to raise participants’ awareness about the benefits of staying physically active, and to provide them with some practical and accessible ways to start thinking about the impact of their individual choices on their health and well being. The in-class portion included lessons on goal setting, the importance of balancing energy intake with energy expenditure, and basic physiology, including measuring heart rate. The gym portion consisted of several exercise stations where participants were instructed in exercises and monitored as they performed. Formative and summative evaluation of “STEP UP” encompassed four major themes, including active participation of the students, learning of topics taught during classroom sessions, optimal utilization of class and gym space, and changes in overall health beliefs concerning self-efficacy, locus of control, and the benefits of exercise.
Teacher Professional Development A new addition to the Science Connection Program’s Teacher Professional Development effort was the Boston Teacher Residency Program (BTR). BTR is a four-year district-based, teacher education program which, building on the medical residency model, combines a full year teacher residency in a school with three years of new teacher support. Four Boston Teacher Residents joined the staff to work with four science teacher mentors in grades seven and eight. The MGH program manager, at the request of the school principal, assumed the role of BTR Site Director. In addition to supporting the nine science teachers, she also directed the mentoring and training of the new science teacher residents. The program manager conducted Grand Rounds to expose the residents to a variety of teaching strategies being implemented in classes, to build capacity in the group of experienced mentor/teachers and to foster an environment of collaboration in the science department.
Science Family Activity EventsThe Science Connection Program held two Science Family Activity events this year at the Museum of Science. A Science Family Activity Day was held on a Thursday in January and hosted 200 sixth grade students and about 25 parents/family members who enjoyed the Sea Monsters Omni movie, a special presentation in Cahner’s Theater, and the hands on activities in the Human Body exhibit. A Science Family Activity Night held in May attracted more than 270 parents, students, and staff members. Families enjoyed a variety of exhibits with math and science themes presented by the Timilty teachers.
SummerWorksSummerWorks a seven-week career exploration initiative for graduating Timilty eighth graders, provides summer internships at MGH. In addition to being aligned with the Science Connections goals of increasing science literacy, enhancing student interest in science/health careers and creating opportunities for students to interact with positive adults and mentors, SummerWorks also provides students with real-life work opportunities, and increases students’ self esteem and sense of personal responsibility.
Pre- and Post-Science in the Classroom Data• Prior to the beginning of the program, nine percent of students reported not eating any fruits or vegetables while at the post-test, only two percent reported not eating fruits or vegetables. • Prior to the program four percent of students reported not doing any physical activity, this dropped to one percent after the program. • 39 percent of the students reported they were active at least 45 minutes per day, this increased to 58 percent after the program. Summerworks Data:During the 2007-2008 academic year, SummerWorks selected 17 interns, three of who had participated with the Science Mentoring effort.
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