October 05, 2015

UAB Center for Community OutReach Development takes summer science learning camp to Jamaica

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jamaica cord2Graduate student and CORD instructor Katie Busch with middle school students.A yearlong dream became a reality this summer for faculty and staff of UAB’s Center for Community OutReach Development. After 12 years of successful implementation of summer science camps and institutes in Birmingham, the group traveled to Jamaica in August to implement similar programs. The three-week summer science camp was the first of its kind for students and teachers in the island’s St. Lucea and Montego Bay areas.

The team spent three weeks on the island, sharing science activities with more than 170 Jamaican students and teachers, marking the first time CORD programs have been implemented outside of the United States.

“Both children and teachers were very receptive and eager to learn,” said Shirley Sanders-Ginwright, administrator and program director. “During the first week, we focused on teacher training to ensure that the programs will be sustainable. We also found that the educators were eager to learn new teaching strategies. We spent time discussing inquiry-based learning, claims, evidence, reasoning and other topics that would increase the professional development of the teachers.”

With the theme “Partnering To Develop Promising Young Scientists Globally,” the camp targeted children ages 10-13, who attended at no cost. Students explored the roles of DNA, molecules and chemistry in everyday life.

jamaica cord3Students, teachers and camp instructors pose for a group photo on the last day of camp. The camp was hosted in partnership with Guna Muppuri, a medical doctor who relocated from Birmingham to Jamaica to expand his business in 2014. Muppuri’s son was a fifth-grade participant in one of CORD’s science camps. Following the family’s relocation, Sanders-Ginwright and Muppuri began having conversations about the need for science education in Jamaica and how they could implement similar science camps there.

“In presenting these CORD camps, we hope to have inspired teachers and students by teaching modern science in a very hands-on and cost-effective way, using everyday materials, techniques and strategies,” said Sanders-Ginwright. “We hope to continue this work and look forward to returning.”

The Center for Community OutReach Development was established in 1998 to advance UAB’s outreach efforts in the Birmingham community. CORD’s primary focus is advancing K-12 science education in the area and throughout the state and nation. The center develops programs to decrease the regional, racial and gender disparity in science, math and engineering. CORD offers hands-on, inquiry-based science experiences both during the school year and in more intensive summer programs. Students experience these programs at Birmingham-area schools, at CORD’s GENEius and LabWorks classrooms at the McWane Science Center, and in CORD’s laboratory classrooms at UAB.

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