Program, a partnership between Middlesex
and Lowell's Bartlett Community Partnership
School. Through MCC's Civic & Service-
Learning Program, Cermak encourages his
college students to work with Bartlett
students on science-fair projects focused on
food, health and environmental sustainability.
realized science is about more than just the
periodic table and Bunsen burners. It's
about people and their relationship to
for youth empowerment," said Cermak, who
went on to earn a doctorate in sociology from
Boston College. "I wanted to find a way to
bring science into community work." He found
the perfect place to do that at Middlesex.
really cares about learning and getting
involved in the community in a way I did
not see in other places," Cermak said.
& Social Sciences, was searching for a
way to bring a STEM (science, technology,
engineering and mathematics) component
into the college's continuing partnership
with the Lowell Public Schools, he turned
Science Program is now in
its fifth semester.
is keenly aware of the
importance of the issues
related to food, health, and
socioeconomic status," said Olson.
sciences informs his work, allowing him to
help his students and the Bartlett students
learn together about doing science ethically,"
continued Olson. "We are extremely grateful
for the way the administration, faculty and
students of the Bartlett have welcomed our
students into their school."
each semester, Cermak recruits 15-20 MCC
students from "Intro to Sociology" and "Food
and Sustainability" classes. They are paired
with 18-25 fifth- and sixth-graders from the
Bartlett School. Over a 10-week period, their
goal is to create science-fair projects based
on a revolving theme.
students choose a topic and spend time
learning background knowledge, including
food and scientific terminology, and how to
design an experiment.
fair trade. Subsequent topics have included
school lunch and nutrition, GMOs (genetically
modified organisms), and sustainable
from countries where products like coffee
and chocolate are produced," said Cermak,
in taste and how quickly they rotted, using
scientific methods," he explained.
to show how science is relatable. And we
explained to them that in other countries,
kids their ages are working in fields to
produce these products."
Food team looked at the effects different
foods and drinks, like Coca Cola, chocolate
and bananas, might have on heart rate,
before and after exercise. It was an
experiment that taught the students how
to use equipment like breath meters and
heart-rate monitors, but also got them
thinking more about what they put into
eaters and eat vegetables, not just because
they were told to, but because they feel
better and understand why," said Cermak.
fair that includes games, interactive
informational booths, and food is held
to showcase the projects to the rest of the
school and the community.
Environmental Sustainability and Health