Pennsylvania Education Secretary Visits the Steel City to See How Students Are Spending the Summer Immersed in STEM

Jul 14, 2015, 12:41 ET from Pennsylvania Department of Education

PITTSBURGH, July 14, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera's "Schools That Teach" tour made stops yesterday afternoon at Duquesne University and Carnegie Mellon University, where high school students are spending their summers learning about and preparing for postsecondary study and careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

"Ensuring that students graduate from high school with college- and career-ready skills is paramount to Governor Tom Wolf's vision for education and his $1 billion proposed investment in Pennsylvania's education system would allow for greater opportunities to expose students to the high-demand jobs in the STEM fields," Rivera said. "Imagine if school districts and career and technology centers had the resources to introduce more students to scientific research and application, we would have a generation of young people poised to meet the future needs of Pennsylvania's employers."

For the past 12 years, Duquesne University's Project SEED program has been providing economically disadvantaged high school juniors and seniors in the Pittsburgh area an opportunity to conduct real-world experiments alongside faculty mentors. Project SEED is a national program established by the American Chemical Society in 1968.

"The program exposes students to cutting-edge science, but more importantly the program provides the students with close one-on-one mentoring and career counseling," Duquesne's Project SEED Coordinator and professor Dr. Jennifer Aitken said. "The biggest change we see in the students is an increase in their confidence and elevated aspirations for their future."

Project SEED students spend eight weeks focused on real research projects covering all areas of chemistry. This summer, one student is working on how to absorb arsenic from contaminated water and another is studying the transfer of gunshot residue via handshakes.

Just down the road, students from across the commonwealth are gathered at Carnegie Mellon University to take part in the five-week Governor's School for the Sciences. Carnegie Mellon began hosting the Governor's School for the Sciences in 1982, as part of a partnership with the Governor and the Pennsylvania Department of Education, to provide a summer enrichment program for talented high school students interested in pursuing a career in a STEM-related field.  

"Students who are chosen for our program work together on team research projects that span a broad range of topics in biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics and computer science," Program Director for the Governor's School for the Sciences and Carnegie Mellon professor Dr. Barry B. Luokkala said. "On top of the outstanding academic experiences these students receive, I often hear them commenting on the joy of being able to interact with other students who share their academic passions, and the excitement of having access to research facilities at Carnegie Mellon University, which are not available in their schools."

The Governor's School for the Sciences is one of three Governor's Schools taking place this summer. Penn State University hosts the Governor's School for Agricultural Sciences and the Governor's School for Engineering and Technology is held at Lehigh University.

MEDIA CONTACT: Nicole Reigelman, 717-783-9802.


SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Education