- Category: blog
- Published: November 4, 2016
We have started our 50th year with a bang! The Open House, held on October 1st , was a huge success, with visits from over 200 families, educators, superintendents, university, industry and community partners. Our 1st Executive Director, Dr. Robert Haynes, came to participate in the Open House all the way from Kentucky! We were in wonderment of the stories he recounted at the Mathematics & Science Center and STEM education in the 60s and 70s. We were also honored to spend time with Virginia Union University’s Acting President, Dr. Joseph Johnson, who spent many great years working at the MSiC.
During the Open House, Ford/Lincoln/Mercury held a fundraising event for the MSiC. As a result, we were able to raise over $2,000 for the MSiC Metro Richmond STEM Fair. This fundraiser will provide much needed support for students who will advance to the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles in the Spring! We extend a huge Thank you to Mr. Jesse and the whole Ford/Lincoln/Mercury team!
Click on a photo to enlarge or start a photo slideshow.
Our Chip in for Golf Tournament was a huge success.
with 18 teams supporting the Center on a beautiful warm day in October. The proceeds raised, along with the generous match from Afton Chemical/Newmarket, will enable the MSiC to finally refurbish our chemistry laboratory into an multifunctional space for students and adults to create using 3D printers and other tools, explore nanoscience, chemistry, manufacturing and more! We extend a huge thank you to the MSiC Foundation Board, Afton Chemical/Newmarket, sponsors and participants of the Chip In for Golf Tournament for aiding in this renovation!
We thoroughly enjoyed our 3rd annual Teacher Talk
discussion with highly acclaimed scientist and author Jeffrey Lockwood. This annual event is in partnership with Dr. Krishan Agrawal in College of Engineering and Technology at Virginia State University and the Colonial Heights Public Schools. Dr. Lockwood led us in an engaging educational talk that spanned subjects such as entomology, history, psychology, religion and climatology. Stay tuned for details about our featured author talk for 2017!
What issues matter most to students, and what are they willing to do about it?
The importance of having students explore questions related to their own lives and their own communities is vitally important. Students can and do provide a great deal of insight, knowledge and energy when tackling issues within their own communities. By harnessing their insight and bringing data/research into it, students can be powerful catalysts for change.
Fourteen students from the Richmond Public Schools participated in an MSiC research course, Project Explore held at Virginia Union University this past summer. This three-week class, sponsored by Altria Client Services, was a follow-up to year-long course held at the MSiC during the school year.
The goal of the course was to help students refine their understanding and use of the scientific process while exploring issues that matter to them. Students began by exploring questions related to two businesses near Union (Sugar Shack Doughnuts and Food Lion). They considered what they needed to know about how the businesses were being used if they were the owner or manager of the business. Questions they considered included: How many doughnuts do patrons buy at one time? With what frequency do patrons buy a beverage with their food purchase? How many bags of groceries are patrons carrying when they leave the store? What kinds of bags are patrons using? What are the ages of the patrons? Do they visit in groups or come in alone?
To answer these questions, students conducted a field-study (i.e. they sat outside of the businesses and collected data). Back in the classroom, students analyzed their data, and compared it to their hypotheses, substantiating (or not) their original thoughts. In addition, students discussed what additional data might be useful to collect. From this experience, research instructors Carroll Ellis and Brian Domroes asked the students two questions: What issues matter to you in your community, and what are you willing to do about it?
For three weeks, students explored and refined their research questions and ideas, learned research techniques in both the physical and social sciences, interacted with a data scientist, a lobbyist and student mentors from the Center for Undergraduate Research at Virginia Union University. Students also worked with a writing coach, developed presentations and solidified their action plans.
Presentation of Research
The work generated by these middle school students was powerful and insightful. As a result of their work with the MSiC’s Project Explore course, students were provided an opportunity, by Clovia Lawrence and Radio One, to present their research during the Teen Forum held on September 10 at the Trinity Life Center. Two students delivered their research and action plans around homelessness and housing with a sense of ownership, confidence and data.
Here are excerpts of the presentations of Elijah Woodward, 7th grade IB student at Lucille Brown Middle School, and Melyoge Kale, 8th grade student at Albert Hill Middle School.
Elijah Woodward on Youth Homelessness
Youth Homelessness Statistics
- 1.4 million students in the U.S. were homeless during 2014/2015.
- 78% of these students were homeless more than once during the school year.
- 18,000 were right here in Virginia.
- 2/3 admit to being too embarrassed to talk about it with school administrators.
- Not having a place to sleep;
- Not having adequate clothing;
- Not having enough to eat.
Solution to one problem (specifically, the stigma of not having a lunch or having to admit that you receive free/reduced lunch) is to create an “elective food bank”.
- Students can “elect” to bring a lunch and forgo theirs, so it can be donated to their school’s food bank.
- Donated food can be distributed to those in need.
- Distributed items can be given in a place other than the cafeteria, so students will not be embarrassed to accept the food.
Following this presentation, Elijah wanted to pose a question to students about what they can do to help with teen homelessness!
Melyoge Kale on Housing
The move to develop public housing began in the 1930s. In 1939, the government sought to demolish all “slums” (dilapidated, unsanitized housing) and replace them with public housing. In 1942, Gilpin Court was the 1st public housing community in Richmond, Virginia, followed by Creighton & Hillside in 1952, Fairfield & Whitcomb in 1958, Mosby in 1962 and Blackwell in 1970. Unfortunately, many people look at people who live in public housing as bad people. This may be because 85% of all crimes that happen in the city of Richmond happen near or around public housing. However, it is important to note that a very small percentage of the offenders who commit these crimes actually live in public housing.
We often hear about the crimes that occur in the housing communities, but what is not reported are all the wonderful activities that happen in these same communities. In these communities, there are STEM programs for young people, access to organizations which provide scholarships that help young people enter into college, Community Days that bring the residents together, strong partnerships with the police department and other City agencies which provide young people with opportunities and skills that will help them move into a successful adult life.
At the MathScience Innovation Center, we are very proud of these (and all of the other students) in the Project Explore course, and we are looking forward to continuing to work with them. For more information or to find out how you can apply to this program (starting on November 19th), visit the MathScience Innovation Center website www.mymsic.org or ask your middle school counselor.
Did you know that the MSiC shares a birthday with Star Trek, which also turns 50th this year!
Dr. Joseph Cox, Superintendent of Schools has a 2nd edition of his book Cinnamon Snarl which has received 5 star customer reviews! Cinnamon Snarl synopsis: Money, greed, and arrogance - that’s what now characterizes the standardized testing business in the United States. The United States Department of Education (USED), with its deep pockets and an alliance with testing and publishing houses, print and digital media, and universities, has created an “institutionalization of testing” scheme that guarantees an obscene profit for each of these entities.
Who has the courage to stand up for our students and teachers to combat the perversion of equity and fairness that this diabolical partnership perpetrates on our schools year after year? Cinnamon Snarl is a must-hear for anyone who cares about the future of America’s schoolchildren and the everyday heroes who have accepted the calling to teach.
- Congratulations to our own Christine Belcher, MSiC Coordinator of 6-12 Math & Science, who co-authored the article, "Secondary Mathematics Professional Development Center," featured in the Virginia Council of Teachers of Mathematics publication Virginia Mathematics Teacher, vol. 43, no. 1.
- Congratulations to Dr. Joseph O. Cox, Jr., for the publication of his education-based novel Cinnamon Snarl. Published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Dr. Cox explores the issues of the public educational system and the impact that educators encounter with the current testing practices.