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Summer course takes high school students to JVIC

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Eight Springfield Public Schools students saw science come alive during a summer program at the Roy D. Blunt Jordan Valley Innovation Center in center city.

For a course that ran June 7–July 2, eight students worked with JVIC scientists and had a front-row view of products being developed for military or commercial use.

The special summer program was collaboration between JVIC and Springfield Public Schools, said Stephanie Blake, physics teacher and head of the science department at Parkview High School.

One of the program’s goals was to show the students future career opportunities.

“We wanted them to be able to see there are really, really great career opportunities in science hidden here in Springfield,” Blake said.

JVIC employs about 90 scientists and researchers, all of whom make nearly twice the average income for a Springfield area resident, Blake said.

Wage information released in December 2009 by the Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that the average annual income for the Springfield Metropolitan Statistical Area is $34,200, based on 2008 data.

Blake and others hope these science students will grow their knowledge locally and put their talents to work in the Ozarks.

“Hopefully they’ll stay in the sciences and possibly come to work for us or consider Missouri State University for their schooling,” said Carrie Vause, senior research scientist with JVIC.

The students worked with the scientists, observing, assisting and researching for several projects, including medications that are being developed to relieve migraine headaches, block pain and reduce inflammation.

“They know what an engineer does, or what a doctor does, but this way they go to see what a research scientist does on a daily basis,” Blake said.

The students also worked with scientists at some of the private companies at JVIC, including Brewer Science, where the students worked to coat, pattern and expose a silicon wafer and worked in a clean-room environment.

“I think this is the next generation of scientists coming up,” said Loretta Wallis, corporate relations manager for Brewer Science. “It is encouraging to see so many students interested in science and pursuing continuing education.”

Of the eight students, two were high school graduates and the other six will be seniors in the fall, Blake said.

Blake hopes the program continues, and if it grows, she may apply for grant funding. This year, Blake received a regular summer school teaching salary for her work with the program, and JVIC made equipment and staff time available, so no other funding was needed, she said.

Students had to interview a JVIC professional, keep a journal, create a scientific literature review, write a reflection paper and give a presentation summarizing their experience, Blake said, and the students who were still in high school got a credit of science toward high school graduation. “It’s been really great, as the teacher, to see these kids find kindred spirits,” she said.[[In-content Ad]]


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