In 1991, I created the Science Preparation Alliance of Rutgers and Camden (SPARC) program with my colleague Joe Martin. SPARC was designed to enhance science education for precollege students, especially focused on science education in the Camden public schools. The SPARC program emphasizes education in the brain, behavioral, and cognitive (BBC) sciences, which are usually studied in health classes rather than in science classes, even though the BBC sciences produce some of the most exciting work in science today. One SPARC activity has been to sponsor an annual Allied Health Sciences Expo at Rutgers. The Expo brings 8th graders to meet health science workers and educators presenting information and hands-on demonstrations of health science activities. The idea is to spark their interest in health science careers and encourage them to make good course selections as they move into high school.
In 1997, I helped create the Forum for Education in Neuroscience and Applied Cognition. The forum sought to transform education about the cognitive and neural sciences at the precollege level, communicate to the general public information about advances in these disciplines, and foster the development of interdisciplinary undergraduate programs in brain, behavior and cognition.
In 1998, I developed a curriculum for the Lucent Scholars Khula Project and recruited an instructional team to go to the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. The project worked with science and mathematics teachers of the “historically disadvantaged populations”, that is, the nonwhite communities, and the first cycle of academic programs was carried out in June and July of 1998.
In 1998, Robert Wood and I started work on Project VILLAGE with the Camden City Board of Education. This project seeks to link community centers, the Camden Public Library, parochial and private schools with the public schools and Rutgers University to create resource access opportunities for students and community residents.
In 1999, Sheila Foster and I started the AMULET project to address issues of lead poisoning and asthma management among children in Camden.