2009-10-22 / Letters to the Editor

SAMS program a wonderful opportunity

I was pleased to see the new SAMS (Science And Math Scholars) program featured on the front page of the Press. This is a wonderful opportunity for Jamestown students. As principal investigator of SAMS, I would like to clarify some details of the program.

SAMS is a program brought to the school by the Jamestown Education Foundation. JEF conceived of the idea nearly two years ago and has since worked closely with Congressman Kennedy to write the proposal that has recently been funded by NASA. Lawn Principal Kathleen Almanzor immediately saw the incredible opportunity we presented and has been, from the beginning, an invaluable partner in creating and implementing the SAMS program. In addition, SAMS would have been dead on arrival if we hadn’t had the interest and support of the lead teachers involved: Deb Barone, Jim Kaczynski, Nick Alfred and Cynthia Cherney.

Our students will be participating in hands-on research with Rhode Island scientists. The program will take advantage of the local environment, turning it all into an everchanging laboratory for the students to explore. The sixth grade curriculum, entitled “Sustainable Living,” will explore aquaculture, hydroponics, agriculture and the environment. Students will learn about the many exciting ways local scientists are trying to address the unsustainable living humans currently enjoy. For example, Roger Williams University, one of the country’s leaders in aquaculture research, will provide a laboratory where students will help seed large aquariums with baby oysters no bigger than a poppy seed, watch them grow and discover the important part shellfish play in maintaining the overall health of Narragansett Bay.

The seventh and eighth graders will focus on “Renewable Energy.” This curriculum will explore wind, solar and wave energy resources. As a coastal community, wind energy is an abundant resource in Rhode Island and SAMS students will explore how that option can have a huge impact on the future of the state. Solar and wave energy will be researched, the pros and cons weighed, and conclusions drawn as to the feasibility of using these resources. These students will be able to tap into world-class research going on at nearby University of Rhode Island, among others, to explore these renewable energy resources.

We are very grateful that the School Department and the School Committee have embraced our work and are eager to form this partnership that will greatly benefit Jamestown students. When JEF receives the funding, we will funnel it to the School Department to cover all costs incurred by SAMS. These include consulting fees for the program manager, the purchase of all new equipment, technology and teaching materials, and field trips to participating universities and organizations.
Mary Hall Keen
Principal investigator, SAMS
Jamestown Education

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