(L): Stem cell research at USC Keck School of Medicine (Patrick Lee/KPCC); (R) Digging for Cherokee Indian artifacts at Great Smoky National Park


"Just Imagine the Possibilities!": Summer Investigations by H.S. Students

How did you spend your summer? Did you look for lost Revolutionary War solders in a 230-year-old battlefield? Did you spend 40 hours a week conducting stem cell research in a university science lab? Two weeks digging for Indian artifacts in a national park? Two months immersed in dramaturgical research in an award-winning regional theater?

Here are some of the stories WKCD's Kids on the Wire turned up this summer.


Unearthing History: N.J. Students Search Ground for Lost Revolutionary War Soldiers

STONY POINT, NY: A dozen 9th and 10th graders peered into the grassy ground Friday in pursuit of history. Using decidedly 21st century technology — a ground-penetrating radar sending pulses below the earth — the students were looking for Revolutionary War dead, buried hurriedly, without markers and off the historical record more than 230 years ago. The kids, aged 13 to 15 and all from Newark, Kearny and Nutley, were participants in Rutgers-Newark’s Geoscience Summer Scholars Institute, and had come to the Stony Point battlefield in search of the 60 or so British soldiers killed by Colonial forces in July 1779. As was the wartime custom into 19th century, the British dead were buried near where they fell. But just one grave has ever been discovered: In 1956, erosion revealed the bones of two British troops. The remains were reinterred at the request of British authorities. The radar technology is more typically used by developers and utility companies looking for underground infrastructure, such as electrical lines, pipes and storage tanks, as opposed to purely historical research. Friday, though, the students were conducting something more akin to a virtual archeological dig. On a clearing next to the site’s museum, the students pushed the radar on a four-wheeled cart. A laptop computer recorded terrestrial nuances below ground. Last year, the students used ground-penetrating radar to find graves of former slaves in an unkempt Bergen County cemetery. Zarina Etheridge, a soon-to-be 10th grader at Science Park High School in Newark, said she was attracted to the geosciences program as a way to tackle the prevalent water pollution in New Jersey. "I’ve always wanted to change that," she said. "And I have to start with geology." Kiesa Jafri, who will start 10th grade at Kearny High School later this summer, said the program enriched her learning experience on several levels. "It’s hands-on, and you’re working with groups," said Jafri, 15. "We’re discovering dead bodies, but I feel like an awesome scientist."

For FULL STORY, go to: Star-Ledger, 8/18/12


Summer School Students Help Scientists Advance Stem Cell Research at USC

LOS ANGELES, CA: For many Southern California high school students, summer is synonymous with surf, sand and sun. But, for some of Los Angeles' top math and science students, the lure of the beach and traditional summer fun fizzles fast when compared to microscopes, slide kits and real-life stem cell research. Armed with little more than protective gear and enthusiasm, 20 overachieving teenagers have been clocking 40-hour weeks in the lab at USC's Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research. Among them is 17-year-old Brian Tom of Lincoln Heights. “It’s fascinating because stem cells have all this potential to heal these degenerative diseases like Multiple Sclerosis and Alzheimer's," says Tom, a senior at Bravo Medical Magnet in Los Angeles. "It's amazing how you can create multiple tissues from one cell." Stem cells offer promise as a treatment or cure for many diseases because they can be can induced to morph into other cell types — such as brain, muscle or skin cells. Stem cells can also divide without limit, which gives them the potential to repair and replace damaged tissue. “You can just imagine the possibilities," says Sophie McAllister, a 17-year-old senior at Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles. McAllister works with a USC mentor on cardiac cell regeneration.

For FULL STORY, go to: 89.3 KPCC Southern California Public Radio, 8/9/12


High School Students Focus on Bullying in Maltz Jupiter Theatre's THE LARAMIE PROJECT

PALM BEACH, FL: Bullying is a problem that affects millions of students of all ages and races. Statistics show that at least 1 out of 4 children and teens experience bullying, and 9 out of 10 students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) report that they have experienced harassment at school. As many as 160,000 students stay home on any given day because they're afraid of being bullied, and one out of five kids admits to engaging in bullying behavior. But a group of high school students at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre is doing something about it. Under the guidance of industry professionals at Florida’s largest award-winning professional regional theatre, area students are tackling the issue as they prepare to produce the drama The Laramie Project on the Theatre’s professional stage. The show will take place at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 8. The Laramie Project is about the brutal murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming, in 1998. As interviews with local citizens and officials unveil the hate crime and its aftermath, the play explores the depths to which humanity can sink and the heights of compassion in which we are capable. To prepare for the play, students have spent the past two months immersed in dramaturgical research through partnerships with various groups in the community, including the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) of the Palm Beaches. The church has participated in weekly panel discussions with the project’s students to help them understand the issues faced by all ages and genders in the LGBT community. “Bullying begins young, and I think that now is not a moment too soon for high school students to be addressing these issues,” said Rev. Dr. Lea Brown, Senior Pastor of the MCC of the Palm Beaches.

For FULL STORY, go to: BroadwayWorld.com, 8/9/12


Hands-on Engineering for High School Students

MANOA, HI: It was an opportunity of a lifetime for 19 local high school students who recently participated in the University of Hawaii at Manoa's College of Engineering Summer High School Internship Program. “It was different from high school,” said Kevin Furuike of Moanalua High School. “A lot more work, a higher expectation for us than high school.” Giving high school students a higher level of academics is one of the goals of the six-week long program. The students received hands-on experience by assisting in on-going research and engineering projects. “It’s not just for students who like math and build legos,” said Myhraliza A'ala of the UH College of Engineering. “It’s for people that are creative and want to be innovators.” “My project was using the EAE gene as an indicator to detect fecal contamination,” said University Laboratory School’s EJ Ingalasalo. The internship takes place in state-of-the-art facilities at UH of Manoa and concludes with an official presentation from each student. “Here they are really exposed to thinking on their own,” said A'ala. “This year we added a component of career building and building a resume, writing a personal statement and preparing for college.” The students who participated, who will be seniors in the 2012–2013 school year, say the program was an eye opening experience. “There are so many different fields of mechanical, electrical, civil,” said Furuike of engineering. “There’s a lot of choices and college is coming up pretty soon.”

For FULL STORY, go to University of Hawaii News, 7/25/12


Archaeological Program Invites Cherokee Students to Dig into Culture

KNOXVILLE, TN: Twelve Cherokee high school students are digging up clues to their ancestral past at an archaeological field program now under way in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, oversees the program in conjunction with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. It started Monday and runs through July 20 on US 441 near the Oconaluftee Visitors Center, two miles north of Cherokee. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, the only federally recognized tribe in North Carolina, has about 14,000 members. This is one of few archaeology field programs that targets high school students. Started in 2007, the program's main goals are to educate students on their culture and to inspire them to pursue college degrees in anthropology and related fields. The research conducted will add to the data already gathered about Cherokee history in the park. Staff from the UT Archaeological Research Laboratory and the National Park Service train students through discussions, readings and on-site instruction. Artifacts found during the excavation are analyzed and catalogued.

For FULL STORY, go to: OakRidger.com, 7/12/12




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“There’s a radical—and wonderful—new idea here… that all children could and should be inventors of their own theories, critics of other people’s ideas, analyzers of evidence, and makers of their own personal marks on the world.”

– Deborah Meier, educator