Release Date: March 12, 2009
BUFFALO, N.Y – The University at Buffalo's Pre-K to 16 initiative and partnership with Buffalo Public Schools will step up its campaign this year to be the region's major destination for Western New York students looking for accelerated summer experiences.
Students this summer will be able to choose between two programs, both of which follow last summer's highly successful Excelsior Scholars Program for accelerated eighth-grade students in Buffalo and surrounding districts.
The two programs students can apply to beginning March 20 through UB's Center for Educational Collaboration are:
• The 2009 Excelsior Scholars Program, a one-week version of the acclaimed 2008 program featuring hands-on, interactive science experiences built around the theme "Medical Mysteries" open to 50 high-achieving eighth-graders from Buffalo and surrounding high schools.
• A newly developed summer science, math and technology program called Passport STEM aimed at introducing middle and high school students to educational and career pathways for science-related fields.
Those interested should call (716) 829-3099.
The summer offerings are the latest examples of accelerated learning opportunities organized by UB's Center for Educational Collaboration. The CEC has been a driving force behind several UB/BPS partnership initiatives, including a series of full UB academic scholarships for three outstanding city students, as well as last summer's Excelsior summer science camp.
"Essentially, the idea is to complement what Buffalo Public Schools are already doing to provide students from Buffalo and also from the surrounding area with opportunities for accelerated learning," says Mara B. Huber, special assistant to the president for educational initiatives at UB, and director of the CEC.
"The summer has emerged as a really great time for these types of programs," says Huber. "It allows us to fulfill our commitment to the schools while not competing with their programming.
"From our perspective, we want to expose them to the opportunities at the university. We want them to think about college. We want to give them that experience that will help keep them on the pathway to college."
The two summer programs hope to attract accomplished students and also those considering pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and math. This year's Excelsior Scholars Program for students ages 13-15 is a five-day program from Aug. 3-7. This program, which will be held in the Enterprise Charter School on Oak Street in downtown Buffalo, is designed to be academically intensive and has eligibility requirements.
The Passport STEM program has two four-day sections, one for ages 9-13 from Aug. 17-20, and another for ages 13-16 from Aug. 24-27. Both Passport STEM sections begin 9 a.m. daily in Allen Hall in UB's South (Main Street) Campus. Students will learn about areas of expertise and professional opportunities through a series of multimedia demonstrations and activities.
Both the Excelsior and Passport STEM programs have fees, but 20 percent of students accepted to each program will receive full scholarships based on financial need. Administrators organizing both see them as a continuing process to expand the summer programs available to middle and high school students hosted by the university.
"The hope is that Passport STEM will be a program with multiple sections, so everyone can start there," says Huber. "But then the vision is that there will be a whole host of more specialized camps, so once students begin to see what their interests are, they can really immerse themselves in engineering, science, math or other areas of specialization. We also hope to develop residential and competitive camps to attract students who are interested in more intensive summer experiences.
"By the time students are ready to look at colleges, they'll have a fairly sophisticated sense of where their interests and strengths lie."
The two summer programs also contribute to UB's broader goal of strengthening the Pre-K to 16 pipeline.
"When we think about having UB involved in pre-kindergarten to 16, or college, we think about what we can do to improve that pipeline by reaching down into the middle grades and getting these students educated and engaged," says Huber. "That will then facilitate their transition into these programs. And they are important, not just for the students' own success, but important for the success of the economy, both regionally and nationally."
The program also helps UB develop models other agencies and groups can use to accomplish similar goals. The UB/Buffalo Public Schools Partnership was highlighted in the Presidential Honor Roll award for its efforts to increase the number of Buffalo students ready for and interested in college through an interdisciplinary research-based approach in the areas of capacity building; research and evaluation; academic acceleration, and pre-K to16 education programs.
"When we initiated our Pre-K to 16 initiative, we committed to focusing on Buffalo," says Huber. "And we are still are very much focused on the Buffalo Public Schools. But by developing models through which to engage with Buffalo, we are now able to extend the reach of our model to both national and even international opportunities."
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.