High school students interested in discovering and understanding more about the wonders of science are busy honing their scientific curiosity in the Summer Science Academy on Emory University's campus. The program, sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs in Emory University School of Medicine, is designed to provide middle school and high school students the opportunity to develop a better understanding of science and to create an environment that is conducive to learning, motivating and strengthening students' knowledge of science.
The academy offers a series of lectures, labs and field experience for students entering eighth through tenth grades (The Lower Academy) and those entering 11th and 12th grades (The Upper Academy). Students participate in interesting experiments designed to provide them with a more in-depth overview of topics in human anatomy, neuroscience, embryology, environmental biology and human diseases. Both programs teach students how to prepare and present a scientific poster. Field trips and recreational swimming also are included.
Robert Lee, PhD, associate dean at Emory University School of Medicine and director of the Office of Multicultural Medical Student Affairs, founded the Summer Science Academy, then known as the Summer Science Discovery Camp, in 1995. He said the purpose of the academy has always been to create an atmosphere where the natural scientific curiosity of students is freed from the constraints of time, grades and the distractions of other students whose scientific interest is minimal.
"The experiences students are getting this summer are designed to heighten their interest in science, make them aware of careers requiring a scientific background and introduce and/or reinforce some principles of science," said Dr. Lee.
During the first year, Dr. Lee used his own money to cover expenses and enrolled his two sons as part of the first group of eight students. The program has since grown to an all-time high enrollment of 103 students and employs as many as eight counselors/teachers, many of whom are Emory medical students, graduate students from Emory or Georgia Tech, and alumni of the Summer Science Academy.
One of the 2006 counselor/teachers, Malik Burnett, is now a senior at Duke University who has been associated with the Academy since the seventh grade. Prior to entering his senior year at Chamblee High School in DeKalb County, Mr. Burnett taught the physics course for the program. He had taken advanced placement physics, scoring a maximum 5 on the exam, with his lowest in-class exam score of 96 percent. He now plans to apply to medical school.
"The counselors' long-term involvement serves as a testament to the strength and appeal of the program," Dr. Lee said.
Dr. Lee added that Emory University School of Medicine faculty and medical school alumni who have completed their residency training in the Atlanta metro area have also contributed to the Academy through lectures and demonstrations. In 2003 and 2004, Pfizer Pharmaceutical, Inc. contributed two grants to the program and provided physician-scientists as guest lecturers, along with scientific instructional supplies. Pfizer also provided partial scholarships to aid students who otherwise would not have been able to participate. In 2006, Pfizer Pharmaceutical, Inc provided a $2,500 grant to purchase durable teaching materials.
This year, the program expanded to provide an "after-school" SAT/ACT Prep course for any student enrolled for any session, regardless of school classification. This program was funded in part by the office of Michael M.E. Johns, MD, CEO of the Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center.
For more information, visit the website at: www.med.emory.edu/summercamp