Program Aims to Expand Access to Summer Science | WCAI

Program Aims to Expand Access to Summer Science

Sep 3, 2014

Students in the FASETS summer science course assist Mass Audubon researchers.
Credit Jill Reves / Falmouth Academy

Unpaid internships are a luxury some students just can't afford, so Falmouth Academy has launched a summer research program that pays.

Most summer programs aimed at exposing undergraduates or high school students to the world of research are unpaid, or require the students to pay the program for the experience. That can be a significant barrier to students who need to work for the summer.

A new program run by the Falmouth Academy Science, Engineering and Technology Scholars (FASETS) Program is different. This summer, more than two dozen students from around the Cape and Islands got paid to spend a week helping local scientists. Middle schoolers assisted Mass. Audubon researchers with habitat restoration and endangered species studies, while older student-scientists

Jill Reves, who heads the FASETS program as well as the science department at Falmouth Academy, says the money was a major motivator for participants. There was no whining about mud or long days bent over a microscope. The students knew they were there to do a job, and they took it seriously.

The researchers also took the students seriously. Reves says there were moments when well-respected scientists turned to the students and asked for their opinion, making sure they knew they could make a meaningful contribution.

In some ways, Reves says, getting paid meant students got a more realistic experience of both the hard work and the excitement of science. Many of the participants have said this experience has convinced them science is what they want to do, while others figured out it wsn't for them. Reves says Falmouth Academy hopes to expand the program in the future.