Math, Science Summer Camp Set for Top-Performing Buffalo Students

Release Date: May 5, 2008 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo will conduct a mathematics and science summer camp in August for 50 high-achieving eighth graders in the Buffalo Public Schools, funded through a $100,984 grant from the New York State Education Department's Excelsior Scholars Program.

The summer camp will be held the first week two weeks in August, managed by UB's Center for Educational Collaboration (CEC) -- which oversees the university's pre-K-16 initiatives, including the UB/Buffalo Public Schools Partnership -- and held in the Buffalo Museum of Science.

The summer camp is aligned with the UB center's focus on developing and implementing accelerated learning opportunities to prepare and motivate students in the Buffalo Public Schools for college-level activities.

It will be open to students who have completed seventh grade and who maintained a grade point average of 90 or above in mathematics and science in grades 5, 6 and 7, and scored well in state mathematics and science assessment exams. The students will be recommended by teachers and nominated by Buffalo Public Schools Superintendent James A. Williams.

The summer camp's intensive hands-on academic component will be complemented by field trips to institutions on the Buffalo Medical Campus and Tifft Nature Preserve. There also will be mentored research and a required final research project to be presented to a panel of local scientists. Additionally, students in the programs and their parents will participate in a session about careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

UB and the Buffalo Public Schools created their partnership in December 2006 with the goal of drawing on expertise across the university to improve outcomes for all students in the schools, and increasing the numbers of students who graduate from high school interested in -- and ready for -- attending college.

Mara B. Huber, director of the UB/Buffalo Public Schools Partnership and special assistant to UB President John B. Simpson for educational initiatives, said the summer camp addresses Superintendent Williams' focus on introducing students to research opportunities and strengthening science programs in the Buffalo schools, as well as improving the district's accelerated programs.

"It demonstrates what can be accomplished when you start by identifying the needs of the district and its students, look for the opportunities to address them and get the right players at the table," added Huber.

"I like to think it's about seeding synergy. You know the need. You know the opportunity, and you can start bringing in different players based on the strengths and areas of focus."

Huber noted that as part of its public service mission, UB is committed to utilizing its intellectual resources to address important public challenges.

"The problems facing urban education in America are one of the greatest challenges we face in this generation and the Buffalo Public Schools present us with a unique opportunity to contribute in this regard," she said.

"UB has so much to offer school districts like Buffalo. By coordinating our outreach efforts in a way that is strategic and aligned with district needs, we can maximize our collective impact and strengthen the pipeline between Pre-K-12 and higher education."

The curriculum for the Excelsior Scholars Program Summer Camp will focus on the theme "Investigating Mysteries in Science" and will feature the "Discover the Microbes Within: The Wolbachia Project" curriculum designed by Wood's Hole Lab in Massachusetts to be delivered by the Museum of Science.

"What is exciting about this project is that it will bring our three organizations together to support our collective mission of enhancing literacy in Western New York," said Mark Mortenson, the science museum's president and CEO.  "With such reputable organizations and talented team members, there is no doubt that this project will be a success, and we look forward to many more."

Noting that state funding for the summer camp is assured only for this year, Huber said: "This program is particularly exciting because it represents a great model for summer programs that can be continued and expanded in future years. It's also exciting because in addition to meeting the district's needs, it builds capacity for partnering organizations. It's truly a win-win for everyone involved."

Huber said the Center for Educational Collaboration has several initiatives in place to benefit the Buffalo Public Schools and their students.

They include providing accelerated learning opportunities for students, as well as professional development opportunities for teachers in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The center recently completed the first phase of a five-year efficacy study evaluating the impact of BPS district initiatives on student success.

She noted that with funds raised at last November's scholarship gala, UB has established a Buffalo Partnership Scholars Program that will be awarding full scholarships to three Buffalo Public Schools graduates entering UB as freshmen in the fall. UB's Center for the Arts is partnering with the Buffalo Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts to provide consulting support, as well as engage students at the school in CFA activities and programs.

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.

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