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STEM charter school to partner with LI's top scientists

(L-R) DNA Learning Center Staff Geneticist Dr. Bruce

(L-R) DNA Learning Center Staff Geneticist Dr. Bruce Nash, Founding Director of the Portal to Discovery and manager of BNL's Office of Educational Programs Ken White, District Superintendent of Nassau Boces Dr. Thomas Rogers, Executive Director of LIMSAT Harriet Copel, and founder of the Doshi Family Foundation Dr. Leena Doshi, at the DNA Learning Center in Cold Spring Harbor. (June 21 2013) Credit: Johnny Milano

A new high school focused on science and engineering is teaming up with two Long Island research powerhouses to provide students with mentors and equipment to help pursue their studies.

Students in the Doshi STEM Program, created to foster passion for science, technology, engineering and math, will have access to experts from Brookhaven National Laboratory and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, officials said. The program also is partnering with the Long Island Matrix of Science and Technology, or LIMSAT, an education group that will design and develop its curriculum.

The school, scheduled to open in September in Syosset, will allow students to work with scientists and research materials they usually would not encounter. The experts will serve as visiting lecturers and regularly meet with students to move their projects forward.

The program will be run by Nassau BOCES. Tom Rogers, its superintendent, said applicants must have solid grades in math and science, complete a live interview and submit a recommendation.

"We are looking for students who have a love of science and engineering . . . and, almost as important, an aptitude for it," Rogers said. "We want to make sure they will be able to rise to that challenge."

The program will have its own wing at the Long Island High School of the Arts and will serve 50 freshmen when it opens. Twenty-five students already have been admitted, including Nia Childs, 13, who is finishing eighth grade at Turtle Hook Middle School in Uniondale.

"I want to pursue a career in the medical field, so science is my main focus," said Nia, who wants to be a pediatrician. "I'm really good with kids."

Harriet Copel, LIMSAT's executive director, said the program will allow students to "see the science as it is done in the field, take samples from local waters, bring them back into the lab and study and learn about them."

Her organization, founded in the 1990s, partnered with Brookhaven National Laboratory in 2011 and educates students on topics studied at the lab, including structural biology, engineering, chemistry and environmental science.

Scott Bronson, manager of the kindergarten-through-12th-grade program at Brookhaven National Laboratory, said the collaboration will give a broad swath of students an opportunity to do in-depth research.

"Students will get a chance to talk about real science," Bronson said, adding that it will give them a sense of "authenticity early on in their high school career."

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, a private, nonprofit facility focused on molecular biology and genetics, has been home to eight Nobel Prize laureates. Bruce Nash, assistant director for science at the DNA Learning Center there, hopes the partnership will help students learn best practices and afford them an opportunity to "contribute to scientific knowledge."

Leena Doshi, a Great Neck doctor whose family is the STEM school's major donor, said it will help open the field to any interested student on Long Island, not just those lucky enough to attend a campus that emphasizes math and science.

"There is such an inequality in the way education is delivered across Nassau and Suffolk," she said.Bronx Science and Stuyvesant high schools in New York City helped to equalize education there, she said, adding that she has the same hopes for the new STEM school.

The program so far has drawn students from Baldwin, Hicksville, Malverne, Oyster Bay and Uniondale, and its reach is expected to grow.

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