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Bender Science Pilot Program

Posted: 07/29/2011

A select number of high school and college students are collaborating in a science “boot camp” this summer, gaining valuable experience in the lab and the field that could lead to science careers. The Bender Scientific Fund of the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region is funding the pilot program, whose goal is to provide young scientists with a solid introduction to college-level study in which college students mentor their high school counterparts.

For the college students, the program offers a chance to do original research. The high school students have the chance to assist with the research as well as the opportunity to develop relationships that could prove beneficial in the years ahead. The ultimate goal is to encourage college and high school students to consider studying the natural sciences in college and choose careers in natural science fields.

Titled “Growing the Science Pipeline,” the program began in early June under the direction of Denise McQuade, senior teaching associate in Skidmore’s Biology Department. The project is geared toward younger college students (rising sophomores and juniors) and older high school students (rising juniors and seniors). Nine college students are participating for eight weeks, pursuing original research in the natural sciences. A key part of their responsibilities is mentoring nine high school students, who have been working as partners with the college students over the past four weeks. Advantages for the high school students include the opportunity to engage in original summer research in partnership with a college student and a professor as well as the chance to be mentored by a college science major.

McQuade says the program helps to encourage students to enter science fields by promoting college research opportunities. She believes that opening research labs to younger scholars can influence education/career choices by allowing students to see themselves as scientists.

“It’s going phenomenally well,” she said.

Skidmore students who are serving as Bender mentors this summer are Sarah Bashaw and Megan Merritt, Class of 2011; Carolyn O’Connor, Class of 2012; Michael Hyde, Madeline Frank, Kate Littrell, and Kaitlin Garofano, Class of 2013; and Jack Fischer and Madeline Pelz, Class of 2014.

High school students who were chosen as Bender scholars at Skidmore this summer are Liam Casey, Schuyler Lockwood, Dana Messinger, Madeline Samuell, and Janel Schietzelt, Saratoga Springs High School; Denise Croote and Sarah Zdunczyk, Ballston Spa; McKenzie Prunier, Schuylerville; and Angelina Salazar, South Glens Falls.

Skidmore faculty participants are Brandy Sreenilayam, Kimberly Frederick, Kelly Sheppard, and Kara Cetto Bales, Department of Chemistry; McQuade, Sylvia McDevitt, and Corey Freeman-Gallant, Biology; and Robert Hallock, Neuroscience.  Evelyn Perkins of the Saratoga Springs High School faculty coordinated the student application process.

Photos by Sam Brook ’12.