Science Fair Funds Received

by Press Release | Nov 28, 2004
Science Fair Funds Received Students from two economically challenged school districts in South Jersey will vie for scholarships and contemplate career options in a booming industry, when they become first-time participants in upcoming competitive science fairs. And these students won't produce run-of-the mill projects, like the ubiquitous erupting volcano. They will address a social issue that affects too many teens: drug abuse.

Thanks to a recently awarded five-year, $1.15 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a Rutgers University-Camden scholar will work with science teachers and students from Camden and Penns-Grove Carneys Point school districts to motivate participation at regional science fairs, with an additional goal to encourage New Jersey's teens to pursue careers in the science and health sectors.

J.W. "Bill" Whitlow Jr., a professor of psychology at Rutgers-Camden and founder of the Science Preparation Alliance of Rutgers and Camden (SPARC) was awarded the grant for his project titled "SPARC 2000+: Science Fair Drug Abuse Science Literacy." As part of the grant, students will be encouraged to create science projects that explore the science needed to understand the impact of drugs and drug addiction.

A pivotal part of the project calls for mobilizing the Camden and Salem school districts' K-12 grade science teachers to encourage consistent participation in science fairs by their students. This summer, from July 5 through Aug. 5, Whitlow will conduct a series of workshops for science teachers as part of the Science Fair Training Institute on the Rutgers-Camden campus. For each teacher to participate in the free workshops on biological, cognitive, and behavioral science they must commit to mentoring two science fair participants for the next upcoming regional fair through the Coriell Institute for Medical Research or Salem County College.

During the next five years, Whitlow expects to work with a cadre of teachers who will be better equipped to promote science fair participation. "Through science fairs students can address important issues that often do not fit into the science curriculum, but the fairs themselves are a vital part of the schools' activities," says Whitlow.

Students who participate in the program can expect to learn about how drugs and drug addiction function on a variety of levels. For instance, Whitlow says students could develop a project related to receptor site chemistry, explore how caffeine impacts performance, or conduct observational research on teenage smoking.

Founded in 1991, SPARC works with local science teachers and students to show how science plays a part in issues individuals confront in their everyday lives. The program has specifically addressed how to improve technology in the classroom and the environmental health of a community. SPARC was involved in the establishment of the Dr. Charles E. Brimm Medical Arts High School in Camden.

A graduate of Macalester College, Whitlow earned his doctoral degree from Yale University. He joined the Rutgers-Camden faculty in 1979. He is a resident of Camden.

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Author: Press Release


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