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Through science, Rodolph give back to Buffalo schools

BY: Community Papers of WNY Staff | January 10, 2013

BUFFALO - Lavone Rodolph, a University at Buffalo PhD student in computer science and engineering, was visited by nostalgia last summer as he worked with the teachers of the school district he once attended. At Hutchinson Central Technical High School, his alma mater, he helped computer technology teacher Mary Ziewers develop an Android programming course that will teach students how to design, implement and deploy Android apps.

For a biology instructor at Burgard High School, he organized a trip to the Buffalo Museum of Science to view the new CSI exhibit, with lessons aligned to the core curriculum. With Bruce Allen, a Burgard physics teacher, Rodolph brought a taste of NASCAR to class by helping the students build model race cars.

Rodolph’s work was part of the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Partnership, a five-year program that aims to improve science education in the Buffalo Public Schools.

The program is lied by UB, Buffalo State College, the Buffalo Public Schools and the Buffalo Museum of Science and focuses on providing teachers with new skills and resources to increase inquiry-based, interdisciplinary hands-on learning activities in science classes.

After hearing about a graduate assistant position offered through ISEP, Rodolph jumped at the opportunity to work with his old high school and share his interest in computers with students. While attending Huch Tech, Rodolph studied computer technology and much to his mother’s dismay, took computers apart at home.

“I cant relate to the students because I was once in their shoes,” he said. “I want them to see science as something fun and not just as a class.”

Mwita Phelps, also a Huch Tech graduate, has the same goal. Phelps, a UB alumnus ad staff scientist at biotechnology company Life Technologies, learned about ISEP through a news article covering the program.

Through the program, he plans to set up career days and educational field trips to Life Technologies for students. He will also help teachers design experiments that can be taken back to the classroom.

Through several after-school programs, Phelps has worked to help minority students prepare for career in science and engineering.

He has taught chemistry to high school students through Bridges to Chemistry program under the SUNY Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Program.

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