Friday, June 30, 2000

A boost toward careers in science

Program aims to encourage minority pupils

By Jenny Callison
Enquirer Contributor

        OXFORD — Making plastic deli tubs vibrate with sound is just one project engaging youngsters this week at Miami University.

        The 30 seventh- and eighth-graders also have manipulated robots, learned about the science of art conservation, made paper and used statistics to predict human height.

        The activities are part of an annual summer program called ESTEEM (Exploration of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Miami faculty and staff volunteer to help with the program.

        Before assembling simple speakers using plastic containers, a magnet, a screw and some wire, the students were asked the difference between noise and sound.

        “Tone,” answered Josh Williams, a student at Schwab School in Cincinnati.

        After assembling their speakers, students Melvin Green of Hamilton and Brandon Harper of Cincinnati tested them by attaching them to a CD player.

        “This is the electromagnet,” said Melvin, pointing to the screw he had inserted in the tub and connected to the wire. “The permanent magnet is taped to the lid. The sound inside the chamber sends out waves to the permanent magnet, and the lid vibrates.”

        ESTEEM is a partnership between Miami's School of Engineering and Applied Science and M2SE (Minorities in Mathematics, Science and Engineering), a Cincinnati-based coalition of business executives and academics. It targets minority students in Butler and Hamilton counties who show interest in math and science.

        “A lot of activities (the students) do here translate directly to what's on the seventh grade off-year proficiency tests,” said Kim Mack, director of ESTEEM and a teacher at Hamilton's Garfield Jr. High School. “The seventh-grade test is a predictor for success on the new 10th grade proficiency test.”

        “ESTEEM allows stu dents to be exposed to math and science and to encourage them to take it in high school so they will be prepared for college majors in math, science, engineering and technology,” said Christine Noble, associate dean of Miami's School of Engineering.

        “A lot of these kids do not come in contact with people in those fields,” she said. “We want them to see people in those fields and be aware of career options.”

        Before students are accepted into ESTEEM, their parents must agree to participate in an orientation that acquaints them with high school requirements for college math and science majors.


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