On a typical morning, you might find Prof. Katherine Walstrom teaching nucleotide metabolism or another aspect of her biochemistry class.
But on one November morning, her audience was a group of 20 children from Sarasota’s McIntosh Middle School. The topics were different, but the purpose no less important.
The children, around 12 years old, visited New College as part of their school’s program to help prepare and encourage promising students who would be their families’ first generation in college.
Walstrom started by making science cool and accessible, touching on DNA, cells, sharks and astronomy, and discussing a diverse group of people that produce the science. From there, she outlined the courses they should take in high school to prepare them for college, a slate of jobs related to science and math, and outlined the skills they would need to be successful in college and in those careers.
Some of those students might someday apply to, and even attend, New College, but that’s not why the College participates. “We want to expose students to the college environment so that they can imagine themselves attending college and so they have the confidence that they can succeed in college,” Walstrom said. “I also want to remind students that science and math should be fun.”
Students also met with Professor Amy Clore and Dr. Mathis Hodge, who teach chemistry labs and maintain lab equipment and supplies. They saw the lab’s analytical equipment and viewed experiments from a second-year chemistry class examining aspirin spectra. The project showed how different compounds can be identified.
Jeff Harris, the Project SUCCESS teacher at McIntosh Middle School, said the New College experience showed his students what they needed to learn.
“If we can focus them now on the college path and a career choice, then in high school they can become better prepared for college,” he said.
“The students came away with an idea of what it actually takes,” he said. “The attention to detail and the things that are offered here at New College… the professors did a great job showing the students the different equipment they have to work with. They saw the beautiful grounds that are available right here, locally, and they also have an idea of what it would take to become a New College student.”