Local students enjoy ‘Science Saturdays’ at CCSU

A Central Connecticut State University professor engages local middle school students during an ecology workshop that compares and contrasts leaves from different tree varieties.

A Central Connecticut State University professor engages local middle school students during an ecology workshop that compares and contrasts leaves from different tree varieties.

By JEN CARDINES

STAFF WRITER

While some people are hitting the snooze button on Saturday mornings, 25 students from DePaolo and Kennedy middle schools, along with a group of students from Meriden’s middle schools, rise and shine for science programs.

Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) hosted these students for four Saturdays in October through their Partners in Science program, where the middle school children got hands-on experience in the lab.

“We have done this program for 29 years, and we run sessions in the fall and spring for the four schools,” said CCSU’s biomolecular sciences chair Kathy Martin. She has been coordinating the program for the last 27 years, where CCSU faculty and graduate students teach the classes.

Partners in Science is a free program for the students because it is jointly funded by Southington, Meriden, and CCSU.

John Duffy is Southington’s PreK-12 science curriculum coordinator, and he works closely with the university to keep the program running. Duffy said that the Saturday sessions have a strong life science component, which falls under seventh grade curriculum standards.

“We mainly look at seventh graders for this,” said Duffy. “Teachers talk to their classes to make students aware of it, but it’s up to the students to pursue the program.”

The classes are held in Copernicus Hall, which houses the School of Engineering, Science and Technology and maintains all science classes on the CCSU campus. The Southington and Meriden students get exposure to higher level laboratories and learning facilities and are taught by the University professors.

“Chemistry of colors, astronomy, microbiology, and ecology are the workshops being offered this fall,” said Martin.

Two workshops run every Saturday, and the students attend four consecutive Saturdays, so they are able to rotate through each one. The three hour sessions go from 9 a.m. to noon.

“It’s nice that we’re taking advantage of this,” Duffy said. “The state doesn’t partner with higher education enough.”

The relationship stays alive throughout the year because the program runs spring and fall, and CCSU faculty and graduate students help judge the Southington science fairs that happen at the middle schools.

“We’d love to expand the partnership between the district and Central,” said Duffy. “It’s something we should be doing.”

Photos by JEN CARDINES

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