UWM center turns high school students into investigators

Conference at UWM on April 15 to exhibit research work of 11 high schools

Students in high schools throughout metro Milwaukee are getting a first-hand lesson on the importance of environmental health science, thanks to the Children’s Environmental Health Sciences Core Center at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM).

A gathering of 250 students and teachers will reveal the results of their experiments at the Milwaukee Life Science and Biology Research Conference on April 15. Students from 11 local high schools, including five MPS campuses, will participate in the conference. It will be held in UWM Union Wisconsin Room, 2200 E. Kenwood Blvd., 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The goal of the program is to help science students link human health and development to environmental issues, such as the effects of nicotine, alcohol and lead on zebrafish embryo development, fathead minnow reproductive behavior and earthworm burrowing behavior.

The UWM Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) program, which sponsors the student research activities and the conference, is funded through the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

The center, which studies how environmental factors impact children, includes this educational component to encourage high school students to conduct original, hands-on research to learn and get excited about science.

After taking part in a professional development workshop over the summer, the high school science teachers guide their students through the environmental research project during the school year.

UWM’s co-principal investigators for the SEPA education grant are David Petering, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry and director of the center, and Craig Berg, professor of curriculum and instruction in the School of Education, whose work focuses on science education. The center is a collaboration among UWM, the Medical College of Wisconsin and the Children’s Research Institute.