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Lawrence Sixth Graders Attend College

Submitted by on July 31, 2011 – 10:12 am

Sixth Graders from the Lawrence Family Development Charter School

Sixth graders from the Lawrence Family Development Charter School attended college one day a month this past academic year, thanks to a grant from the Stevens Foundations of North Andover.

The 60 pre-teens visited science and technology labs on Northern Essex Community College’s Haverhill Campus one Friday each month to do activities conducted by Northern Essex professors.  The curriculum was designed to improve scores on the science and technology sections of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) tests.

Topics covered included astronomy, measurement, introduction to engineering, chemistry in phases, landscapes, and geology, according to Northern Essex Professor Marc Reinhold, and activities ranged from building bottle rockets to demonstrate chemical processes to racing cockroaches to determine how to measure speed, velocity, and force.

“Every lesson included fun, hands-on activities,” explained Reinhold.  “We believe this is what gets kids excited about science and helps to improve comprehension.”

“The goal was to improve their understanding of science, technology, engineering, and math, what we call the STEM fields,” said Dr. William Heineman, Northern Essex’s vice president of academic affairs.  “There is a wealth of evidence that insufficient numbers of students in the United States are meeting high standards of academic achievement in these fields.    By reaching them at a young age and getting them excited about these fields we hope to help turn this around.”

Students were tested on a subject before the lesson and then again after to determine whether they grasped the subject matter.  Initial findings are positive, according to Reinhold, who hopes that the partnership will continue this coming year.

In addition to the 6th grade visits, professors from Northern Essex visited 5th graders at the charter school five times this past year and provided additional instruction in science and technology in preparation for the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) tests.

For more information, contact Reinhold at