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Local non-profit works to diversify STEM field, bring science experiments to classrooms across the area

Volunteers, staff with Rise Up: Northeast Ohio on a mission to make sure all kids can experience science in real form
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Posted at 6:34 AM, Jun 07, 2023

CLEVELAND — A local non-profit is working to bridge the gap and bring the science lab directly to the classroom.

It's called "Rise Up: Northeast Ohio".

The volunteers and staff are on a mission to make sure all kids can experience science.

They say it's about community outreach.

Starting the process now creates a necessary foundation for future doctors and scientists across Northeast Ohio.

"We're really getting kids excited about science and learning, and really being able to design their own experiences," Paul Tesar, Ph.D., Co-founder and Director of Development at Rise Up/Professor Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine said.

A classroom inside of CMSD's Lincoln-West School of Science & Health has fully transformed into an immersive science lab.

It's ground zero for experiments, observations, and hands-on lab work.

"We have the students just completely act as a scientist, as like a scientist from beginning to end," Marissa Scavuzzo, Ph.D., Co-founder and Scientific Director at Rise Up said.

The experience is thanks in part to the volunteers from Rise Up: Northeast Ohio.

The outreach group comprised of Case Western Reserve University Ph.D. student volunteers and staff aims to make science accessible to all students across the greater Cleveland and Akron areas.

Co-founder Marissa Scavuzzo says real-world science demonstrations are critical for growth and development.

The non-profit which was started back in 2019 helps remove financial barriers that often prevent opportunities and experiments from happening in the classroom.

"Science is expensive. When funding is cut science suffers a lot. We saw this as a need we could help to address," Scavuzzo said.

Data shows that when students participate in a demonstration or lab, it helps them better absorb the information and increases overall engagement.

Scavuzzo says it further inspires students to potentially pursue a career in STEM.

They've witnessed almost instantaneous success and interest.

"I wasn't really that interested in it (science) until we started doing this project. It's actually pretty cool," Shatrela Traylor, Lincoln-West School of Science and Health sophomore said.

"With these hands-on experiments it's given me a better look at it, if I would want to go into the field professionally," Rayshawn Seals, Lincoln-West School of Science and Health sophomore said.

Whether students are conducting an experiment with proteins or just studying the periodic table of elements, educators say it all makes a difference in the long term and there are takeaways that extend beyond the classroom.

Scavuzzo says it's about shattering the glass ceiling and showcasing equity and diversity in the field.

"We hope that they walk away knowing they can be scientists, but they can also do anything that they want to and a lot of these skills are things that can apply to any career."

Katy Perhay, a science teacher at Lincoln-West School of Science and Health and teaching partner with Rise Up says the school's community partnership with MetroHealth has been paramount, but this opportunity takes it a step further.

"They literally get to see the whole experience from the research to the research being utilized in the hospital. It's inspirational for these kids," Perhay said.

Lincoln-West is the only school in the country where students go to school in a hospital.

In their 12th-grade year, they work directly with healthcare employees at Metro.

Rise Up: Northeast Ohio is now looking for more Ph.D. students to volunteer and work in the schools.

They are also working to secure additional funding.

For all of the details and ways to help, click here.