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Boston Students To Gain Access to New Scientific Learning Laboratory

Students and teachers at Boston Green Academy and Excel High School in Boston will soon have access to a working scientific laboratory and scientists as part of AP Biology, Chemistry, and Physics courses. Vertex Pharmaceuticals and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino have announced a $1.5 million collaboration with Boston Public Schools (BPS) with the goal of increasing student participation and achievement in AP science courses and preparing teachers for the national Next Generation Science Standards that will be implemented next year.

The collaboration between Vertex and BPS includes multiple programs.

"The core element of the collaboration is focused on supporting multiple activities to increase participation and performance in AP subject areas, including AP Biology, Chemistry, and Physics," the company reported. The collaboration is aiming to improve student achievement in these areas and ensure that underserved students have access to the programs they need to prepare for college-level science courses.

Vertex is constructing a 3,000-square-foot learning laboratory at its new headquarters at Fan Pier in Boston's Innovation District. Students from Boston area schools, as well as other community groups, will be able participate in community education activities to learn laboratory and scientific inquiry skills from more than 250 Vertex scientists and staff at the facility.

The lab will also help teachers learn about the instructional techniques expected under the new science education guidelines. Teachers from Boston Green Academy and Excel High School will partner with Vertex scientists to learn current techniques and skills in laboratory research, as part of a Vertex-sponsored teacher-researcher fellowship program.

Students from Boston Green Academy or Excel High School will have the opportunity to compete for Vertex's new annual university scholarship, which will provide "full financial support to attend a Massachusetts state college or university, up to $25,000 per year per student for four years." The funds can be used toward tuition, fees, and other related expenses.

Students from the two schools will also be eligible for an internship at Vertex, which will enable students to work alongside Vertex scientists and staff in preparation for careers in the life sciences. The internship is part of the Mayor's Summer Jobs Program.

The programs will begin in the 2013 school year and run through 2016. The Mass Math + Science Initiative (MMSI) will administer components of the AP program and monitor its success.

“We are encouraged by Vertex’s commitment to supporting STEM education within the BPS through such a broad and comprehensive program,” said Carol R. Johnson, superintendent of the Boston Public Schools, in a prepared statement. “The multi-year commitment helps us plan for the sustainability and growth of our STEM education programs, and the resources provided through Vertex’s learning lab will be an invaluable asset as we implement the new science education guidelines across the district.”

Boston Public Schools serves more than 56,000 students from pre-kindergarten through grade 12 in 125 schools.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].