ALMA — Donald L. Pavlik Middle School students once again joined science faculty at Alma College in “version two” of the Alma Enrichment Partnership Program (AEPP): Science, thanks to funding from the Gratiot County Community Foundation (GCCF) and the Alma College Center for College and Community Engagement (3CE).

“V2” of AEPP: Science once again welcomed 23 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students to campus for eight weeks, but this year, offerings were expanded to include two simultaneous programs. Eleven new students participated in a recasting of last year’s inaugural program and 13 students from last year returned to campus for a new experience, thanks to grant funding from the GCCF.

In both programs, students again worked with specialized equipment in Alma College’s science labs, which they would not likely have had the opportunity to use in their normal classrooms.

“We were ecstatic for the support from the GCCF this year,” said Brian Hancock, an assistant professor of teacher education and director of the AEPP. “To see this program grow, with such great support from Alma College, Alma Public Schools and now the Community Foundation, is evidence of the power of collaboration and an engaged community who, together, are vested in our local students’ learning.”

Returning Alma College science faculty leaders were Alex Montoye, associate professor of integrative health and physical science (IPHS); Kevin Kingsland, instructor of biology and environmental science; Steuard Jensen, associate professor of physics; Joel Dopke, Towsley Professor of Chemistry; and Nancy Dopke, associate professor of chemistry. New faculty, who spearheaded the expansion of the program for returning students, included Tim Keeton, associate professor of biology; Brianna Harfmann, associate professor of IPHS; and Dave Clark, Charles A. Dana Professor of Biology.

“Our faculty leaders are really the heart and soul of this program, dedicating their Friday mornings to help provide engaging science opportunities for the high-achieving middle-school science students,” said Hancock.

Harfmann taught the expanded program for returning students. Her sessions supported students in figuring out different ways electrical signals are present and support function within the human body. Harfmann said the students were happy to be on campus learning about science.

“The AEPP program is a fantastic partnership that strengthens the relationship between the college and the community,” Harfmann said. “I was excited to get involved this year and interact with middle school students in the area. I was thoroughly impressed with the students’ ability to engage with the material and critically think. We had a lot of fun running experiments and learning together, and I hope the students were as inspired as I was by the experience.”

The Alma Enrichment Partnership Program: Science is slated to return in fall 2024, thanks to grant funding from MiSTEM Region 10 in East Central Michigan.