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New program a gem for science students

April 26, 2010|By HEATHER KEELS
  • Fort Detrick Garrison Commander Col. Judith D. Robinson, front left, and Washington County Public Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan, front right, sign a partnership agreement Monday at Washington County Technical High School. The agreement creates the Gains in Education of Mathematics and Sciences/Young Engineers and Scientists (GEMS/YES) program, which will teach middle-schoolers how subjects like biology, chemistry and math are applied in real-life scenarios. Back row: Amber Byers, Sheri Pryor, Washington County Board of Education Vice President Justin Hartings, Maureen Leavy, Julia Marinelli and Brandon Mitchell.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer,

o Middle school students sought to take part in science program

HAGERSTOWN -- A summer science program being introduced this year through a partnership between Fort Detrick and Washington County Public Schools will benefit student participants no matter what careers they choose, officials said Monday morning during a signing ceremony that formalized the partnership.

The Gains in Education of Mathematics and Sciences/Young Engineers and Scientists (GEMS/YES) program will teach middle-schoolers how subjects like biology, chemistry and math are applied in real-life scenarios, with this summer focusing on the field of forensics.

"It's a great way to get kids excited about science," Washington County Board of Education Vice President Justin Hartings said after the ceremony. "My hope is that it will sort of spark that excitement and give them the motivation to carry it on to a future career. And even if it doesn't, the experience of being able to solve problems, approach problems and be analytical, I think, serves them in every aspect of life."

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Fort Detrick Garrison Commander Col. Judith D. Robinson and Washington County Public Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan signed the agreement at Washington County Technical High School.

"We have to invest in our future, and this is one opportunity for Fort Detrick to assist with that," Robinson said.

Fort Detrick has offered a similar program in Frederick County, Md., for four years.

"(Fort) Detrick's always been an economic driver for this whole region, and it's great to see them also being an educational driver because there really is remarkable, world-class science that goes on at Fort Detrick," said Hartings, a former researcher there. "To see them sharing that knowledge with the students in the region is really a win all the way around."

Robinson said she hoped to see the program expand in Washington County in future years.

This summer, as many as 100 students from E. Russell Hicks, Northern, Springfield and Western Heights middle schools will be accepted for four, four-day institutes. Participation is free. Upon successful completion, participants will receive $50 stipends.

Organizers also are seeking high school juniors and seniors to work as mentors for the middle school students.

Several Washington County Technical High School students who applied for those positions participated in the signing ceremony.

"I'm interested because I actually want to be a science teacher when I get older, and I want to start practicing helping out students with that kind of material," junior Julia Marinelli said.

"I just think it's cool to pique their interest at a young age," junior Brandon Mitchell said. "I know I didn't have that chance when I was growing up."




To apply for the program



Applications for the GEMS/YES program may be obtained at participating middle schools or by going to http://www.detrick.army.mil/yes/hagerstown.cfm.

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