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Duke School of Medicine Awarded Funds for Pre-College Science Education

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Duke Health News 919-660-1306

DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke University School of Medicine, Durham
Public Schools and the North Carolina School of Science and
Math will join forces to bolster science education for
under-represented minority middle school students and their
teachers, thanks to a $538,000 four-year grant from Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

The new program, dubbed BOOST for Building Opportunities and
Overtures in Science and Technology, reaches out to both
teachers and students, said Brenda Armstrong, M.D., associate
dean and director of admissions for the Duke School of Medicine and
program director for the HHMI grant. BOOST focuses on enhancing
students' interest in and aptitude for science during the
transition from elementary to middle school, a time when
students' interest in science often wanes, Armstrong said.

The program will target Forest View Elementary, Lakewood
Elementary, Githens Middle and Rogers-Herr Middle schools for
student participation and recruit teachers system-wide for the
teacher development component, Armstrong said.

BOOST will introduce students to biomedical research and
science applications through inquiry-based classroom
activities; independent research projects aided by medical and
graduate student mentors; field trips to Duke Medical Center's
biomedical laboratories, and a week-long summer program called
Summer Science Immersion. The program will also provide
teachers the tools they need to engage students in science,
Armstrong said.

"This grant is so special because it really demonstrates the
power of partnerships among Duke, Durham Public Schools and the
North Carolina School of Science and Math," Armstrong said. "It
will help keep students focused on science so that once they
move from the program in the summer, they will continue to find
opportunities to maintain their contact with many aspects of
science and its applications."

Of 115 applying institutions, Duke was one of 19 to receive
an award under HHMI's Precollege Science Education Initiative,
an initiative aimed at interesting young people in science and
improving science education for pre-kindergarten to 12th-grade
students.

Ten teachers and 20 students will participate in BOOST. The
grant includes funds for such practical necessities as student
transportation for summer participation, activities involving
local research laboratories and mentoring by graduate and
professional student "science coaches." The program will pay
for substitute teachers during the year, which will allow
regular teachers to take advantage of enriching and educational
activities for curricular development and implementation.

"The program is designed to remove obstacles for teachers
and students to participate and to create excitement and energy
for science," Armstrong said. "Our ultimate aim is to establish
a program to inspire these students to make positive
contributions in science as scientists and doctors."

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