This summer, a handful of bud­ding sci­ence and math scholars and local edu­ca­tors earned a cov­eted chance to work along­side North­eastern fac­ulty in lab­o­ra­to­ries focused on chem­ical, mechan­ical, and elec­trical and com­puter engi­neering, and phar­ma­ceu­tical sciences.

Last Thursday, the 24 Boston-​​area high school stu­dents and 21 local teachers who par­tic­i­pated in the inten­sive six-​​week expe­ri­ence gath­ered in the university’s Egan Research Center to dis­cuss the high­lights of the sci­ence and math research that had absorbed them. See two stu­dent presentations.

The lab­o­ra­to­ries are spon­sored by Research Expe­ri­ences for Teachers and the Young Scholars Pro­gram. Both efforts—begun in 2001 and 1989, respectively—are over­seen by Northeastern’s Center for STEM Edu­ca­tion. (“STEM” is short­hand for “sci­ence, tech­nology, engi­neering and mathematics.”)

At Egan last week, the stu­dents, teachers, and North­eastern men­tors shared their find­ings in a room over­flowing with posters the par­tic­i­pants had cre­ated to sum­ma­rize their work. Poster titles ranged from “The Effects of Nano­ma­te­rials on Algae Growth,” to “Inter­ac­tions That Reg­u­late the Cel­lular Response to DNA Damage,” to “Non-​​Invasive Brain-​​Computer Inter­face Design.”

According to Claire Duggan, the STEM center’s pro­gram and oper­a­tions director, the summer labs reflect a national com­mit­ment to sparking interest in math and sci­ence. A U.S. gov­ern­ment report titled “Rising Above the Gath­ering Storm: Ener­gizing and Employing America for a Bright Eco­nomic Future” actu­ally links the effi­cacy of math and sci­ence edu­ca­tion to the con­tinued suc­cess of the U.S. economy, she says.

The report specif­i­cally men­tions the use­ful­ness of summer expe­ri­ences for teachers and stu­dents, Duggan notes.

Revere High School senior Luciana Salles, who worked in assis­tant chemical-​​engineering pro­fessor Shashi Murthy’s lab, says she was thrilled with her experience.

I never thought chem­ical engi­neering would be so inter­esting,” she reports. “My goal is to go into bio­chem­istry, and hope­fully work on biological-​​threats research.”

Murthy’s lab also excited chem­istry teacher Greg Banks, who hopes to pass his enthu­siasm along to his stu­dents at Urban Sci­ence Academy, in West Roxbury.

It was really inspiring to work in cutting-​​edge research,” says Banks. “I have a grad­uate degree in envi­ron­mental sci­ence, but, in all sci­ence fields, changes happen so fast. Working in Sashi Murthy’s lab helped brush me up.”

Banks says he will be incor­po­rating the inves­ti­ga­tions he did into cell recep­tors into the courses he teaches.

We need to teach con­cepts and dis­ci­plines to stu­dents in a way that shows them the rel­e­vance of their work in the real world,” he says.

Research Expe­ri­ences for Teachers, funded by the National Sci­ence Foun­da­tion, links middle and high school math­e­matics and sci­ence teachers and com­mu­nity col­lege STEM fac­ulty to par­tic­i­pating labs on the North­eastern campus and else­where in Mass­a­chu­setts. It aims to give teachers an extended research expe­ri­ence, build teacher/​professor col­lab­o­ra­tions, and share best practices.

The highly selec­tive Young Scholars Pro­gram offers high school juniors and seniors the chance to work side by side with North­eastern researchers.

Word is out about both pro­grams, says Duggan: “We’ve been over­whelmed with applications.”