NIU considers summer learning program for poor

By Gail LaBarbera

NIU might host a summer learning experience this year for economically disadvantaged high school students.

The program, called the Summer Educational Experience for the Disadvantaged, is a nationwide program sponsored by the American Chemical Society. It was started 20 years ago.

The university has hosted the event for the last few years.

The students chosen to learn at NIU must have an interest in chemistry and preferably some prior chemistry coursework. They also must be members of the federally funded Upward Bound program, which offers college-related experiences to economically disadvantaged students.

Robin Rogers, NIU associate professor of chemistry, said he has applied to participate in the program this year. He said one requirement to participate is a grant from the American Chemical Society, which he did not have in 1986 and 1987. He said ACS allows two students per professor.

Rogers said he must apply for other grants and raise money in other ways to pay for the materials, chemicals and stipends for the students. In 1988, for instance, ACS only awarded $1,500 of the $2,000 in stipends and he received the rest from the NIU Foundation.

Each student receives a $1,000 stipend to participate in the program. The ACS grant and money from the chemical department help pay for the chemicals used.

ogers also was allocated a small amount from the NIU provost’s office which he said has “been very gracious because they think it (the program) is important.”

Rogers said he worked through the Upward Bound program because he wanted to offer the best program he could for the students. He said they are receiving their academic training from the Upward Bound program and their research training from SEED.

He said the objective of SEED is to “get them involved in the research going on at the time.”

He instructed two students in the summer of 1985 and two students in 1988 who learned about the chemical research conducted at NIU. The program at NIU lasted eight weeks in 1985 and six weeks in 1988.

Rogers and his four graduate assistants explained research terminology, processes and safety aspects about the research. He said the first couple of days were spent learning how to handle chemicals, treat waste products and learn what protective clothes are worn in the lab.