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Science Consortium Visits State Capitol to Extol Education

(Posted March 5, 2002)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Legislators and visitors to the State Capitol Building in Harrisburg will get the opportunity to use cutting-edge scientific instruments to identify genetic material by using DNA profiling, identify plastics using infrared spectroscopy and see how a consortium of 11 Pennsylvania colleges and universities are delivering state-of-the-art science education to the state's secondary school science teachers at a promotional demonstration at 10 a.m. March 12 in the East Wing of the Capitol Building.

The Basic Ed/Higher Ed Science and Technology Consortium, funded by a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, is comprised of Juniata College, Cedarcrest College, Clarion University, Drexel University, Gannon University, Gettysburg College, Wilkes University, Susquehanna University, Ursinus College, Westminster College and the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.

Based on the Science in Motion program developed by Juniata College in 1987, each institution in the consortium uses "Science in Motion" vehicles to visit urban and rural high school science classes, allowing students to gain hands-on experience with analytical equipment most secondary schools do not have.

"One site situated at a regional institution can use a single complement of scientific equipment to offer science services to more than 15 school districts," says Lorraine Mulfinger, assistant professor of chemistry and co-director of Juniata's Science in Motion program. "School districts can have access to science equipment, science educators and advanced curricula without having to buy new equipment or hire new faculty."

Last year, the consortium delivered science instruction, equipment and supplies to more than 3,200 classrooms across the state. More than 52,000 students took part in the classes.

Juniata College started Science in Motion in 1987 with a $530,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to bring professional chemistry equipment into rural and urban secondary schools. In 1992, the program received a $1.8 million NSF grant to expand the program to include biology instruction and to expand the college's program into western Pennsylvania. In 2000-2001, the state appropriated $2 million to create the Basic Ed/Higher Ed Science and Technology Consortium, then consisting of Juniata and eight other institutions.

Each member of the consortium demonstrating science techniques at the capitol has already started science outreach programs. Don Mitchell, professor of chemistry at Juniata and founder of the Science in Motion program, believes every area of the state has a college or university that can use science outreach to give secondary school students science experience that are well beyond limited opportunities that can be provided by most high schools, as well as experiences consistent with the needs of today's workforce. The Juniata program visits more than 25 schools in central Pennsylvania and employs two teachers to operate two vans dedicated to each science area. A third van is used to drop off and pick up prepared scientific experiments.

Other states, such as Alabama and Delaware, have used the Juniata model to start their own science outreach programs. In 1994, Alabama started its Science in Motion program and has expanded to 11 sites around the state. Alabama has 11 regions for its program, each overseen by a college or university.

The directors of each program at Pennsylvania schools are as follows:

Cedarcrest College: Pamela Kistler, (610) 606-4666
Clarion University: Bruce Smith, (814) 393-2646
Drexel University: Sally Solomon, (215) 895-2642
Gannon University: Ken Anderson, (814) 871-7617
Gettysburg College: Kay Etheridge, (717) 337-6150
Juniata College: Don Mitchell, (814) 641-3566
Susquehanna University: Chris Jansen (570) 372-4221
University of Pittsburgh at Bradford: Jodi Burgert (814) 362-7532
Ursinus College: Vic Tortorelli, (610)409-2239
Westminster College: Tim Wooster, (724) 946-7297
Wilkes University: Terese Wignot, (570) 408-4627



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Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.