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Alamance Summer Program Prepares Minority Males in Grades 6-10 for Medical School Using Carolina Biological’s Curriculum

Julie Gates for Carolina Biological Supply Company
562-429-5972 or jgatespr@yahoo.com

Community college mixes Carolina's Smithsonian Science and Technology Concepts Middle School™ modules with field trips to medical schools to create engaging learning for aspiring medical students

BURLINGTON, NC, June 25, 2019 –Carolina Biological, the leading school science supplier, and Alamance Community College (ACC) partnered to offer a specialized summer program for minority male middle schoolers to inspire them to go to medical school. The college launched the first Medical Bridge program two years ago to reach out to local students early and provide them insight, confidence and a path to obtaining high-paying careers in the medical field. Data from the American Association of Medical Colleges showed that black men in 2014 represented only 1% of all entering medical students in national medical schools. When a board member of the college suggested finding a way to address the problem of low participation in the medical field by minority males, ACC President Dr. Algie Gatewood and Lakeisha Vance, who coordinates the Medical Bridge program, took action. They created the three-week Medical Bridge camp with small-group, high-impact, hands-on and real experiences that appealed to middle school boys early on, opening the door to opportunities in medicine.

Vance described how the students got to feel like doctors, using a microscope for the first time to look at cells. Highlights from the program were dissecting a frog and some students even held a brain in their hands! They had a visit from University of North Carolina (UNC) medical students and met people in different types of medical jobs, such as dentists, pharmacists, and chemical engineers. They also learned about cancer research at the Brite Lab biotechnology center at North Carolina Central University. Serving 40 students each of the first two years, many students and their parents were so impressed by the program they are returning this summer and the program is expanding to 75 boys, supported by a grant. The college will use life science module kits from Carolina's Smithsonian Science and Technology Concepts Middle School (STCMS) curriculum to teach a three-week camp session for rising boys who love science in grades 6-10.

"Medical and STEM career paths include high-demand job opportunities that have competitive salaries," said Dr. Algie Gatewood, President of Alamance Community College, a public college in Graham, NC. "Stable, highly compensating jobs contribute to the overall well-being of any community. The Medical Bridge program connects young people with career paths that benefit the students and the entire community."

Smithsonian Science and Technology Concepts Middle School is a high-quality core science and engineering curriculum program specifically developed to meet the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) that includes print and digital components, as well as hands-on materials. Smithsonian developed STCMS and partnered with Carolina to publish and distribute it to schools. Students will use two STCMS life science module kits to give students a feel for medical school: "Structure and Function" and "Genes and Molecular Machines."

To give teachers confidence and ensure the best results, Carolina will provide guidance on how to incorporate the curriculum into the time frame. The company will train the coordinator and middle school science instructors who will teach this summer's program on the Alamance campus. Carolina will work through as many of the investigations with the staff as possible. This middle school curriculum is designed to engage, inspire, and connect students in grades 6 and up firsthand to the world around them. Proven by research to improve students' learning, STCMS helps teachers integrate science, technology, math and engineering through engaging and hands-on lessons.

"It is important to reach boys early, since minority males are making decisions in middle school about continuing education," said Vance, Adjunct Professor, Computer Information and Technology and Program Coordinator at ACC. "It's a good time to connect with their parents and get them involved in their sons' participation in our Medical Bridge enrichment and mentoring program. Our goal is to keep students focused as we transition them from middle school through high school and then on to coursework at ACC until they transfer to a four year college."

As they did during the last camps, this summer's students will meet diverse minority professionals/mentors and dive into the world of medical school with field trips to medical schools and science centers. They will visit Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM), UNC Medical School, and other local universities and science centers. Students were selected for the free program through K-12 Alamance-Burlington School System referrals and by writing an essay. The full-day program runs three weeks, July 8-26, Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The program has filled fast through school system referrals, but parents or students who want to join the interest list for next summer can call the school.

"Carolina Biological is proud to work with Alamance Community College to make a positive impact in our own community by encouraging minority boys who just need the right motivation and guidance to enter scientific and medical careers," said Jim Parrish, President at Carolina Biological. "The STCMS curriculum used in the Medical Bridge Camp is perfect to engage middle school students by giving them a wow-factor experience that draws upon the Smithsonian's research, scientists, and world-class collections and offers a peek behind the scenes. It brings the excitement of the world's largest research facility and the most impressive collection of science and artifacts right into their classroom."

High Interest for Boys

The modules selected by ACC for the Medical Bridge summer camp use short 45-minute high-interest, hands-on lessons and activities to capture the interest and imagination of science-minded boys, engaging them in authentic science and engineering practices. The Smithsonian built STCMS to meet the new NGSS science standards. Three-dimensional learning construction is in every lesson and every unit. Lessons apply science concepts to NGSS engineering design. Students build explanations for real-world phenomena and design solutions every day through hands-on investigations. A coherent learning progression develops lesson by lesson, unit by unit. Literacy and mathematics connections bridge science content and lead to deep understanding.

In the Genes and Molecular Machines unit, students collaborate to answer the driving question, "How has human understanding of inheritance allowed us to influence change in biodiversity?" Beginning at the cellular level, students explore the different ways that organisms reproduce and what that means for their genetics. Students learn how traits are passed from one generation to the next as they study zebra fish, plants, protists and humans. By the end of the unit, students create their own "creatures" with unique characteristics and follow those traits to their offspring to learn about inheritance. Using Punnett squares, DNA, and mutations, they predict future generations. Understanding how genes are inherited is necessary for medical students to understand the human body.

New to the camp this summer, the STCMS Structure and Function unit on life science, asks students, "How do the structure and function of organisms contribute to their survival?" It's the deadly leaves of a Venus flytrap. Or the startling camouflage techniques of a brilliant octopus. Earth's diverse array of creatures and plants has unique structures that assist their quest for survival. Starting at the cellular level for plants and animals, students learn about cells, how those cells work in systems to contribute to survival. Students investigate how photosynthesis and cellular respiration drive the flow of energy and matter in an organism. A close investigation of the nervous system and a frog dissection show the interdependence of organs and their systems. At the end of the unit, students research unique systems of organisms, including how hippos sweat to create their own sunscreen. Understanding how cells work in living organisms is a prerequisite for medical school.


Smithsonian Science and Technology Concepts Middle School is available now from Carolina and includes print and digital components, as well as hands-on materials. Nine modules of STCMS are currently available. Each module includes a print-format Teacher Guide, a set of 16 hardbound student guides, a class kit of hands-on materials to supply 32 students, and digital access to the Teacher Guide, teacher and student E-books, and Spanish Resources. For information, visit Carolina's website, call (800) 334-5551, or e-mail curriculum@carolina.com.

Smithsonian Science Education Center

The mission of the Smithsonian Science Education Center is to transform and improve the teaching and learning of science for PreK-12 students in the United States and throughout the world. Established in 1985 as the National Science Resources Center (NSRC) under the sponsorship of two prestigious institutions — the Smithsonian Institution and the National Academy of Sciences — the Center is dedicated to the establishment of effective science programs for all students. The Smithsonian Science Education Center works to build awareness for PreK-12 science education reform among global, state, and district leaders; conducts programs that support the professional growth of PreK-12 teachers and school leaders; and engages in research and curriculum development in partnership with it is publisher, Carolina Biological Supply Company, the sole source provider of STC™, STCMS™, and Smithsonian Science for the Classroom™.

Carolina Biological Supply Company

From its beginnings in 1927, Carolina (www.carolina.com) has grown to become the leading supplier of biological and other science teaching materials in the world. Headquartered in Burlington, NC, Carolina serves customers worldwide, including teachers, students, and professionals in science and health-related fields. The company is still privately owned by descendants of the founder, geology and biology professor Dr. Thomas E. Powell Jr.