Vol 8. Issue 15 / May 5, 2008

Scripps Florida Receives Grant to Improve and Expand Science Teaching in Palm Beach County Schools

By Eric Sauter

Scripps Florida, a division of The Scripps Research Institute, has been awarded a $110,000 grant to provide Palm Beach County middle and high school teachers with a summer program of instruction in basic science and advanced laboratory-based techniques and give them special portable teaching units for future classroom use.

The two-year grant comes from the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust. The trust supports university, college, and school programs that foster sustained, substantive training in the arts, humanities, and sciences.

"The William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust is delighted to collaborate with Scripps Florida by providing support for the Kenan Teacher Scholars program," said Richard M. Krasno, executive director of the Kenan Trust, in announcing the award.

The pilot program, which begins this summer and will run each summer through 2010, builds on Scripps Florida's successful Education Outreach Program, also sponsored by the trust for the past three years.

"The Kenan Teacher Scholars program will allow us to offer greater professional development opportunities to middle and high school teachers in a supportive and engaging environment," said Deborah Leach-Scampavia, the education and outreach administrator for Scripps Florida. "Teachers will be able to interact with the scientists at Scripps Florida, and bring that experience home to their students in their classrooms."

For middle school teachers, the Kenan Teacher Scholars program will focus on an initial introduction to science with activities in chemistry, biology, math, and physics during a week-long summer interactive training program at the Scripps Florida campus in Jupiter.

For high school teachers, the summer program will include a week of intensive training sessions covering the various applications of the DNA-polymerase chain reaction procedure, a technique capable of producing millions of copies of small amounts of DNA in just a few hours.

Portable science kits supplied by Scripps Florida will give both teachers and students the chance to work with the same techniques and state-of-the-art equipment scientists use in modern bioscience research facilities.

In 2009, the program will seek to enroll teachers from six middle schools and six high schools. As the program progresses, other schools will be included.  

"Initially, Scripps Florida will work closely with the school district to emphasize recruitment from those schools with limited resources in both rural and urban Palm Beach County, particularly in those areas with large disadvantaged student populations," Leach-Scampavia said. "In future years, the Kenan Teacher Scholars program will provide opportunities for teachers from all middle and high schools within the Palm Beach County school district."

The Kenan-supported 2007 Scripps Florida Outreach Research Intern program offered nine high school students and three high school teachers from Palm Beach County a six-week summer research experience in the Scripps Florida laboratories. Ten student and teacher interns graduated from the program in 2006, and seven graduated in 2005.

This summer the program will enroll three teachers and 11 students from around the county. 

To date, teachers and students from 15 of the 20 public high schools in Palm Beach County have participated in the summer intern program.

"Following the completion of the laboratory projects, two students of last summer's intern program were offered part-time laboratory technician positions in our cancer biology and drug discovery laboratories," Leach-Scampavia said. "This is the kind of real world success that we hope to build on with the establishment of the new Kenan Teacher Scholars program."

The Kenan Charitable Trust of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is named for William R. Kenan Jr., a chemical engineer who helped in the discovery of the process of converting calcium carbide to acetylene and the construction of carbide and acetylene plants at the turn of the 19th century. A North Carolina native, Kenan traveled throughout the region to attend to his wide-ranging business interests in railroads, real estate, and oil. As brother-in-law to Henry M. Flagler, Kenan established a strong interest in Florida and spent the majority of his later years in the state. In 1904, he built the first 210-kilowatt power plant in Miami, and in 1955 as a director of Florida Power & Light he turned on one of the largest power plants in the state, the 140,000-kilowatt power generator in Cutler. Kenan also served for many years as president of the Florida East Coast Railway and the Florida East Coast Hotel Company. Following his death in 1965, a major portion of his estate was used to establish the trust.


Send comments to: mikaono[at]scripps.edu
















"Teachers will be able to interact with the scientists at Scripps Florida, and bring that experience home to their students in their classrooms."

—Deborah Leach-Scampavia