Putting Money Where Our Math Is

January 6, 2012 | by the Office of Communications and Public Affairs

Elmhurst College has received a $7,500 grant to help fund a College outreach program that points minority middle and high school students toward careers in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.

The grant from the DuPage Community Foundation acknowledges Elmhurst’s efforts to meet the growing need for workers in science and technology-related fields.

“We try to pique students’ enthusiasm early with a hands-on approach, bringing them on campus to conduct experiments,” said chemistry professor Gene Losey, who manages the STEM education program with Ami Johanson, an assistant professor of chemistry. “Our outreach to young STEM students is especially critical now that there is a nationwide emphasis on recruiting and retaining students in these fields.”

Elmhurst’s STEM Education Outreach program benefits about 100 students a year with activities that teach how scientists think. It presents them with strategies for studying and introduces them to career opportunities in a fun, hands-on, challenging environment.

Outreach events include:

  • The Dare to Dream program, which promotes STEM careers to middle and high school Latina students in the Chicago metropolitan area.
  • The Summer Academy in Mathematics and Science, a two-week camp that prepares area high school juniors and seniors for college through group study and projects.
  • The Niagara Foundation Science Projects, which hosts junior high students from the Niagara Foundation’s Science Academy in Chicago to work on assignments in the sciences.
  • The Junior High Science Olympiad, which helps students from three Elmhurst middle schools prepare for the prestigious competition.

The grant will enable the College to purchase new equipment, including several precision balances and spectrophotometers, which are used to quantify and identify compounds through absorption of ultraviolet or visible lightwaves.

Elmhurst College is one of 31 not-for-profit organizations that received the DuPage Community Foundation grant, which aims to raise the quality of life through contributions for arts and culture, education, environment, and health and human services. Since its inception, the foundation has awarded more than $12 million in grants to not-for-profit agencies serving the residents of DuPage County and beyond.

“It’s an honor to be included among this diverse group of organizations,” Losey said. “We feel extremely fortunate to be a part of this grant, which allows our outreach to continue.”

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