Student and NetPal Getting Acquainted at the Broad
Known for pioneering work on the human genome, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard (the Broad) has recently joined several other bio-medical companies that provide NetPals science mentoring to 7th graders at the Cambridge Street Upper School (CSUS). For many years, Broad employees volunteered as one-to-one tutors in the Cambridge public schools, most notably as Science Olympiad advisors to the high school team. Their recent involvement in the NetPals program, however, has taken their commitment to the community to another level.
According to Vivian Siegel, the Broad’s Director of Education & Outreach, the idea of a NetPals collaboration linking scientists with students through bi-weekly e-mails around life, work, science/engineering and school, came about when she and Lisa Scolaro, CPSD’s Science Curriculum Coordinator, were discussing possible cooperative ventures. Vivian then brought the NetPals idea to the women@broad group, whose mission to inspire young women to become scientists seemed like a natural fit. The age group seemed right, too, and the women scientists were excited about the one-to-one relationships that could ensue. The group opened up the opportunity to all Broad employees, ensuring a diverse mix of people. As Vivian recalls, “many of the students walk past the Broad every day and have no idea what goes on inside our walls. We wanted to change that.”
Jennifer Beaudoin, point person for outreach in the women@broad working group, was also critical to the NetPals launch. She became a full partner in all of the recruitment activities, from posting flyers around the Broad, reaching out to individuals and groups to encourage their participation as volunteers, and visiting the CSUS to introduce the Broad to the eager 7th graders. CSV thanks Vivian, Jennifer and Rachel Gesserman, the Education & Outreach Coordinator, for their enthusiasm and energy in this wonderful new partnership, which is concluding a successful first year. The Broad joins Draper Lab, MassBioEd and Novartis as NetPals who are introducing Cambridge students to careers in science, technology, engineering and math.