The buzzword in education at the moment is STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The idea is to promote education in these vital areas. Be it through meetings, symposia, its graduate school or summer courses, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and its DNA Learning Center (DNALC), have always placed education at the core of their mission.
A great example of the Lab’s spirit of outreach is the Harlem DNA Lab in Manhattan. Situated in the John S. Roberts Educational Complex (J.H.S. 45), it’s a modern teaching lab converted from a conventional classroom. There is space for about 32 students, a couple of instructors and the various equipment they need to conduct experiments.
Though part of the school building, the laboratory is its own entity, run and staffed by the DNALC. Funding was secured through the Office of School Programs and Partnerships (OSPP) at the NYC Department of Education (DOE).
The lab has footlocker kits that allow for experimental equipment to be brought from the Roberts building to New York area schools that wish to set up a temporary lab demonstration, furthering the outreach possible from this location.
On Friday March 29, New York schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott paid a visit to the Harlem DNA lab to see students participating in the first Spring Break DNA Science Camp.
It was the last day of the camp, and the students—9th, 10th and 11th graders—were now doing their own experiments. Dave Micklos, Executive Director of the DNALC, provided critique and encouragement to the students.
Chancellor Walcott walked among the young people, pausing at every table to talk, as they went about learning how to manipulate and perform experiments with DNA. He also talked to the instructors about the camp and how the students had got on, as well as getting the lowdown on the other activities of the DNALC from Dave Micklos.
It was clear to all that the students had enjoyed themselves. The Chancellor remarked on their ability, precociousness and maturity.
Of the 80 students who applied for the Spring Break DNA Science Camp, the 30 young girls and boys selected hailed from 17 different countries. All 5 boroughs were represented, as were schools from the full spectrum of those found in NYC.