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Charter School Students Study STEM in NECC Labs

Submitted by on July 17, 2014 – 8:27 pm
Jeremy Rizzo

Jeremy Rizzo of Lawrence measures sugar during his summer enrichment experience at NECC.

Jeremy Rizzo, 11, carefully and deliberately measures sugar into a white, paper cup sitting on a digital scale in a science lab at Northern Essex Community College in Lawrence. He is creating a visual to see what 44 grams of carbohydrates look like. That is the exact amount of carbohydrates in the can of soda sitting in front of him.

Jeremy is one of 18 students from Lawrence’s Community Day Charter – Prospect School to participate in a nutrition class every Tuesday for four weeks in the Louise Haffner Fournier Amesbury Street lab. This is a partnership between NECC and the Charter School which does not have its own science labs.

The Charter School offers a one-month summer enrichment program focused on health and wellness which includes hand picking fresh fruit, creating healthy dishes with the fruit, practicing yoga, visiting the farmer’s market, and listening to the Lawrence General Hospital nutritionist talk about good nutrition.

NECC is offering the lab and supplies as part as its commitment to community outreach. CDC Prospect is funding the faculty. Northern Essex science professor Dr. Maria Carles says she tries to make the labs fun by using things the young

Pablo Arias and Abner Marte

Pablo Arias and Abner Marte work together on a science experiment at NECC.

students can relate to like soda, juice, and candy bars. One week they examined the microbes in different yogurts. Another week they extracted the DNA from a strawberry and learned about GMOs verse organic. One week they will extract the iron from breakfast cereal using magnets.

“I find it interesting,” says Jeremy. “This has taught me things about the foods I eat.”

Both Northern Essex and the Charter School benefits from this partnership, says Martha Leavitt, director of the campus operations and procurement.

“This is a great use of this lab space which would otherwise be empty on a summer afternoon,” Leavitt says. “In addition to exposing them to STEM projects, it gives them exposure to the Northern Essex campus and what it has to offer.”

For additional information on community partnerships contact Dr.Noemi Custodia-Lora, Executive Director of NECC’s Lawrence campus and Community Relations at