BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A University at Buffalo program that
exemplifies the university's commitment to creating a pipeline to
public higher education for kindergarten through high school
students has expanded from one to two Buffalo schools, thanks to a
$485,000 grant from the John R. Oishei Foundation.
The grant continues the work of Joseph A. Gardella, Jr.,
professor of chemistry, and his team of UB collaborators toward
improving the teaching of science and math to Buffalo public school
The new funding has allowed the program, originally directed at
middle school students, to expand within the Native American Magnet
School and to the Math, Science and Technology Preparatory School
at Seneca (MST), eventually adding curricula and programs for
students in lower and upper grade levels.
Gardella said the grant will strengthen a pilot program that is
a part of the strategic partnership between UB and the Buffalo
Public Schools in which the university will use its
multidisciplinary expertise to improve outcomes for the more than
36,000 students in the city's public schools.
"It shows how serious we are about K-16 outreach by aligning our
investments in interdisciplinary research strengths with programs
that deal head-on with issues in urban public schools, including
the drop in the number of female and minority students who pursue
STEM -- science/technology/engineering/mathematics -- careers,"
Gardella said. "It links our national strengths with regional
issues, and focuses on a community issue -- the need to bring
excellence and innovation in science programming to the Buffalo
Public Schools and provide learning opportunities for all students
in the district."
Principal Pamela Rutland calls the UB program "an amazing
opportunity" that will "breathe life into the science curriculum"
"Since taking the position as principal of MST, it has become
more apparent with each passing day that the private, public and
not-for-profit partners in the City of Good Neighbors care about
the education and success of all children," Rutland said. "This is
an amazing opportunity for the Buffalo Public Schools, our students
and this community, one that will provide all students with
equitable access to a quality education, strengthening our city and
The UB program trains experienced public-school teachers in the
newest interdisciplinary scientific and engineering research
approaches in order to "renew their enthusiasm, deepen their
knowledge and build their leadership skills," according to
Gardella. Year-round institutes will immerse participants in
interdisciplinary research in several areas identified as strengths
by the UB 2020 strategic planning process, including integrated
nanostructured systems, bioinformatics and health sciences, and
molecular recognition in biological systems.
"Our project uses interdisciplinary team-based research programs
to help teachers develop classroom materials and after-school
programs that align with learning standards and draw from modern,
multidisciplinary approaches," Gardella said. "Specifically,
Buffalo teachers will have the opportunity to access research
through three tracks: nano- and photonic materials science and
engineering, tissue engineering and environmental science and
UB faculty experts in chemistry, physics, engineering, the
health sciences and education coordinate and teach the institutes;
researchers from Roswell Park Cancer Institute and
Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute participate as well.
UB graduate and undergraduate students serve as mentors and
classroom aides. The project will serve approximately 20
public-school teachers over two years.
The Oishei grant will enable the program to add elementary
grades 4-6 at the Native American Magnet School, where it began as
a pilot program in the middle-school grades in 2005. UB faculty
will continue the middle-school program there, and will translate
its curricular materials for use by teachers in the lower grades,
as well as develop in-class and after-school programs at those
In expanding the program to MST -- which serves grades 6-12 --
Gardella said his team will "take middle-school curricular reform
and move it up to high school."
MST, "the first and only College Board school in Western New
York," according to Rutland, offers "cutting-edge technology woven
through every grade level.
"Each student is issued his own laptop. Students also take
monthly college field trips with the idea that they need to get
comfortable on a university campus because this is their
destiny. This grant will help widen the depth of learning for
our students. They can experience what most students can only read
about. Touching the life of a child can and often does change
the life of many generations."
She added that through the UB program, "students will work with
classroom teachers, college professors and graduate assistants to
breathe life into the science curriculum. Our students will be
exposed to rich experiments and learn about exciting new careers
that use science as a foundation. They will be asked to dream and
work at a level of intensity beyond their imaginations."
Ultimately, the program seeks to connect Buffalo Public Schools
teachers with professional learning communities to act as mentors
and to promote educational issues, Gardella said.
"We seek to make a powerful impact on changing science education
and improving diversity in the disciplines of science, technology,
engineering and mathematics," Gardella said.
The John R. Oishei Foundation mission is to enhance the quality
of life for Buffalo area residents by supporting education, health
care, scientific research and the cultural, social, civic and other
charitable needs of the community. The foundation was established
in 1940 by John R. Oishei, founder of Trico Products Corp.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive
public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the
State University of New York.