March 14, 2008
Partnering for academic success

What is the connection between someone's personality and their handwriting? How do different colors affect human memory? Will grass grow if the seeds are put in the microwave first? More than 100 such questions were answered at the annual science fair at the James P. Timilty Middle School in Roxbury Feb. 5. In the school's cafeteria, seventh-graders stood by their displays while volunteer judges from the MGH and the community service groups City Year and RE-SEED circulated, asking questions and viewing posters.

The MGH/Timilty Science Connection, now in its 19th year, seeks to enhance the academic performance and expand the career horizons of Timilty students. The partnership also provides development and curriculum support for Timilty science teachers. Approximately 30 MGH/Timilty mentorships take place each fall, with students and mentors meeting biweekly from October through February to prepare for the science fair. Through the program, students have access to scientific equipment and expertise that otherwise would be unavailable to them.

timilty students

Seventh-grader Sekou Stuppard's project, "Is a doctor's initial diagnosis as accurate as a CT scan in predicting and diagnosing appendicitis?" was carried out under the mentorship of Jean-Fresnel Josaphat, Esq., of the MGH Department of Radiology. "I used to think that I wasn't interested in medicine because I don't like blood," the young scientist remarked. "But at the MGH, I learned that you can be a doctor and not have to deal with that." Josaphat, who has been mentoring Timilty students for five years, also arranged for Stuppard to meet various members of his department to hear a range of perspectives. Said Josaphat, "I grew up in Haiti, where educational resources were limited. To be able to show these kids that success is possible and to give them encouragement is a wonderful experience."

GOT SCIENCE? Timilty students prepare for the judging.

Susan Berglund, manager of the MGH/Timilty Partnership, says, "The science fair is about more than presenting science projects. It is an opportunity for every student to share their research and experiments with judges and mentors who are proud of the efforts the students have made." Adds science teacher Barbara Simon, "For the students, experiencing the MGH community and hopefully realizing that they could be a part of it is an important experience that I can't provide in the classroom."

The MGH/Timilty Partnership, a part of the MGH/Boston Public School Partnerships and sponsored by the MGH Community Benefit Program, has existed since 1989 and was enhanced through a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 1994. For more information, access www.massgeneral.org/cb.

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