May 03, 2004 Vol. VIII, No. 15



Young Scientists Bring Brainpower to May Symposium

K-12 Students Get Jump Start on Careers in Research, Break into Print Early

The power and imagination of young scientific minds from Los Angeles area schools will be on display at Cal State Northridge's annual Student Research Poster Symposium on Saturday, May 8.

Scheduled from 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. in the Grand Salon of the University Student Union, the symposium will feature posters detailing the research of nearly 100 science students in grades ranging from kindergarten through twelfth. Participating students will be available to answer questions about their research.

"The nation's health, welfare and security depend on producing top research scientists," said Steven Oppenheimer, CSUN biology professor and symposium director. "This program starts the youngsters early on the road to careers in research science."

Working with the Los Angeles Unified School District, symposium co-sponsors are the Improving Teacher Quality program, the National Science Foundation, the California Science Project, and Cal State Northridge's Center for Cancer and Developmental Biology, as well as its Department of Biology and Office of Graduate Studies and Research.

Many of the students' symposium projects have been published in the Journal of Student Research Abstracts, an Annual Journal for Young Investigators and Their Teachers. Oppenheimer describes the publication as a "groundbreaking" opportunity for the young researchers to get their work into print.

Oppenheimer, who edits the journal, already is seeking financial support for next year's volume, in which more of the May symposium abstracts will be published. "We also are seeking an endowment that could name the journal in perpetuity."

More than 700 K-12 students have co-authored research abstracts in volume 9 of the journal, newly issued. A majority are from schools in economically depressed areas serving mostly underrepresented students, Oppenheimer said.

Journal abstracts range from the ambitious-Clark Magnet High School's "Analysis of Heavy Metals in and Around the Los Angeles Harbor"-to the practical, such as Portola Middle School's "Which Type of Insulating Material Keeps a House the Coolest?"

Second graders at the 24th Street School investigated what kind of animal life exists in their neighborhood "besides the obvious birds, rodents, stray domestic animals and insects." In their abstract, they describe the scientific process they used to discover animals they could see only under the microscope.

"We thought that some looked like short, fat worms," they wrote, "...and some looked like gooey snails without shells."

Clark Magnet's environmental and spatial technology class clambered aboard the research vessel Vantuna for three voyages in and around the Los Angeles Harbor, taking sediment and marine life tissue samples. They were after evidence of metal contaminants in the harbor waters.

The May 8 symposium, conducted under the auspices of CSUN's College of Science and Mathematics, is open to the public.

"The symposium and the journal are crown jewels in training teachers to train their students in how to do high quality publishable and presentable research," Oppenheimer said.

For more information, call Oppenheimer at (818) 677-3336. j


@csun | May 03, 2004 issue
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