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Durham Area Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing K-12 Students to Attend Duke Summer Science Program

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Duke Health News 919-660-1306

DURHAM, N.C. - Deaf or hard-of-hearing students attending kindergarten through 12th grade in the Durham public school system will attend a magic show and solve a "crime" as part of a new two-week special science program that began Monday at the Duke University School of Engineering.

The students also will interact with deaf and hard-of-hearing college students working in a research program that has been held at the school's Center for Emerging Cardiovascular Technologies (CECT) for the past 11 years, said Martha Absher, the school's director of outreach.

Absher won one of the White House's first Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring in 1996 for her longstanding efforts at Duke to provide engineering research experiences for women, the disabled and under represented minorities.

Funded by the National Science Foundation through the CECT, the new Duke program for deaf and hard-of-hearing public school students is designed to both attract them to careers in engineering, the sciences and mathematics and to introduce them to role models who share their disability.

"I did a lot of preliminary research out in the Durham community and found that many of its deaf or hard-of-hearing students have never known a deaf scientist or never met a deaf college student who is very successful in the sciences, math or engineering," Absher said.

Absher used a $10,000 unrestricted grant from her presidential award and another grant from General Motors to begin working with local school children, and that led to her new NSF three-year funding, she added.

Charlene Sorensen, a chemistry professor from Gallaudet University, a Washington, D.C., institution for the deaf and hard of hearing, will lead various program activities, all tailored to the students' ages.

In addition to magic shows, demonstrations of "kitchen chemistry," visits to Duke engineering labs and opportunities to do environmental science water testing, the students will help solve a staged crime. The "crime" will be discovered during a 10 a.m.-noon session on forensic evidence collection in Room P013 in the sub-basement of the Teer Engineering Library Building on Science Drive on Duke's West campus.

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