The 2017 STARS and STRIPES program launched on June 12th with an orientation session introducing students and parents to program instructors and staff. Ms. Mary Williams, Center for Healthy Communities (CHC) community outreach coordinator, opened the event and provided an overview of what all participants could expect over the summer and introduced the instructors and program assistants for the 2017 session.
In welcoming the students, Dr.Errol Crook, Director and Principal Investigator for the CHC, encouraged the young people to take advantage of the opportunities ahead of them and support each other through the program and future challenges as they move on to college and into careers in the medical sciences. He stressed that the CHC focuses on health disparities and sees education and knowledge building as a key component of helping communities to develop their own capacity to advocate for equity and improvement.
Drawing on her experiences as an immigrant to the United States, Dr. Martha Arrieta, Director of Research Core, continued the theme of encouraging the STARS and STRIPES participants to take their futures into their own hands and to make the most of their participation in the program. She also challenged the group to remain curious; explaining that curiosity is the foundational principle of research. In asking the questions — specifically what, when, where, who, and why — researchers move forward in identifying problems and finding solutions.
Mary Williams welcoming the STARS and STRIPES students.
After the greetings, Ms. Williams introduced the program assistants and instructors who intern explained the program of study for the summer:
The Center for Healthy Communities Education Pipe-Line program provides opportunities for rising high school juniors from underrepresented communities to participate in an intensive summer training program. Consisting of two phases — Student Training for Academic Reinforcement in the Sciences (STARS for rising juniors) and Special Training to Raise Interest and Prepare for Entry into the Sciences (STRIPES for rising seniors) — the program engages students in team-based learning to increase their knowledge base in the sciences by developing critical reading, thinking, and analysis skills in preparation for college pre-health pursuits. Funded as a part of the NIMHD Center for Excellence, the Program activities include:
Academic enrichment sessions during the summer
Participation in community service activities and health advocacy
An eight week internship in a health care provision site or a medical research facility upon high school graduation
The bridge project was an assignment completed by the STARS students during the summer 2016 session. The project served several purposes. First, it emphasized the importance of working together as a team; secondly, it showed how communication and asking for assistance helped the results; and lastly, it focused on developing the students’ deep understandings of mathematical concepts, proficiency with key skills, and ability to solve complex and novel problems. The project is based on the premise that you can go anywhere with math. The students worked together to create a bridge using the online calculator, Desmos.com. They used mathematical formulas learned over the summer and some they had researched on their own, to create fascinating bridges.
Students learned there are two kinds of arches in a bridge: tension and compression. Tension arches are typically seen in suspension bridges like the Golden Gate Bridge where two main cables form the arch shape. The vertical deck load carried by the structure is transferred to a tensile force in the cable. Compression arches are typically seen in truss bridges where steel or concrete form the arch shape. Similarly, the vertical deck load carried by the structure is transferred to a compressive force in the steel or concrete.
The general mathematical formula that determines the shape of both the tension and compression arches is parabolic, meaning the formula has the typical form: y = k* x ^2.
The Bridges blend direct instruction, structured investigation, and open exploration. It taps into the intelligence and strengths of all students by presenting material that is as linguistically, visually, and kinesthetically rich as it is mathematically powerful.
The underrepresentation of African Americans in medicine and biomedical research professions means that for many students from health disparate communities, there are very few role models or mentors with similar backgrounds who can help guide them into careers in the medical professions. In an effort to address the problem, the USA Center for Healthy Communities Education Pipe-Line program was developed to provide opportunities for rising high school juniors from underrepresented communities to participate in an intensive summer training program. Consisting of two phases — Student Training for Academic Reinforcement in the Sciences (STARS for rising juniors) and Special Training to Raise Interest and Prepare for Entry into the Sciences (STRIPES for rising seniors) — the program engages students in team-based learning to increase their knowledge base in the sciences by developing critical reading, thinking, and analysis skills in preparation for college pre-health pursuits. Funded as a part of the NIMHD Center for Excellence, the Program activities have included:
visits to college campuses
medical career seminars
development of a Family Health Tree
research skills development
advanced computer technology skills
STARS and STRIPES students also have the opportunity to develop their leadership skills while simultaneously working to improve their community by taking part in volunteer projects, service activities, health-focused run/walk events, and health fairs. Additionally, they build their public speaking skills by researching, preparing and making a presentation in a community setting on a pertinent health issue of concern to them and their fellow community members.
Over the years, graduates of the program have applied the knowledge they have gained as they work toward their educational and career goals. Jasmine Patterson, a graduate of Mattie T. Blount High School and the STARS and STRIPES program, is currently pursuing a degree in Biology and Radiological Sciences at the University of South Alabama. She describes her experiences as, “…an enriching program and I am glad I was accepted. Being in this program not only helped me enhance the skills that I needed help with, but it also prepared me for the upcoming academic year.”
Seven years after this Mobile, AL, native graduated at the top of her 2009 class at John L. LeFlore High School, and magna cum laude from Dillard University in New Orleans, LA, Alexandria Lynelle Broadnax, a second-year medical school student in the USA College of Medicine is steadily moving toward her dream of becoming a physician. A former pipeline participant, Alex began to focus on her goals by participating in the STARS. program. While an undergraduate at Dillard, she took part in the CHC Undergraduate Research summer experience and returned the following year to participate in the two phase D.R.E.A.M. (Diversity Recruitment and Enrichment for Admission into Medicine) Program. According to Alex, “…the (STARS.)program helped me have clearer and more realistic plans for after high school. I became a better-rounded individual as result of the numerous volunteer and academic activities I was involved in.”