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SPECIAL COURSES & WORKSHOPS

The Center continues to sponsor visits, ranging from weeks to months, by distinguished scientists who lecture and participate in its research programs. Recently the MRSEC sponsored visits by Shenda Baker of Harvey Mudd College, and Edward D. T. Atkins of the University of Bristol. Baker, on sabbatical leave, participated in IRG-1 research with Russell and is establishing an outreach program between the Center and Harvey Mudd. Atkins participates in graduate student education at the Center by delivering general lectures on the use of x-ray diffraction on polymers, and is actively involved in the research efforts of the MRSEC. The highly successful course entitled Excellence in Polymer Education Program, (EP)2, designed to better prepare students for employment after graduation continues to be supported. Lecturers drawn from over 15 national industries teach industrial skills such as management, leadership, teamwork and ethics. The professional support staff of the MRSEC participates in teaching practical aspects of experimental design and execution; consults with students daily on research problems and is the primary source of student practical training on such instruments as electron microscopes, x-ray photoelectron spectrometers, NMRs, mass spectrometers and x-ray scattering equipment.

MRSEC continued its successful Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program and supported 11 undergraduate research participants. Recruitment of undergraduates from the nearby women's colleges, Mount Holyoke and Smith College, and through the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) Science/Engineering Academic Support Network for Black, Hispanic and Native American Students continues. The outreach programs with Howard University and the University of Puerto Rico also serve as a source of REU participants. In the upcoming summer, the REU program is 200% oversubscribed. Supplemental funding for two students has been obtained to alleviate the over subscription. Positions for four other applicants have been found in polymer activities related to the Center. Consequently, the Center's REU effort has increased more than 60%. The Center has recently obtained supplemental funding to support a Research Experience for Teachers program in the upcoming summer. Four high school teachers will participate in research at the Center under the guidance of a Center researcher. While the RET program will be used to provide these teachers with research experience, this opportunity will also be used to develop teaching modules based on research that can be used in the Center's distance learning effort.

DISTANCE LEARNING

The Center initiated a distance learning program during the past year in conjunction with the Education Department at the University. As a result of a funding supplement, the Center was able to provide Boston Latin Academy with equipment necessary to participate in the program. With four teachers at BLA modules based on polymers are being developed to integrate into their curriculum. These modules will be intensively developed and tested this summer in the Research Experience for Teachers program. Faculty at the Center will lecture from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and be telecast to the classroom at Boston Latin Academy and other high schools in Massachusetts.

NATIONAL PLASTICS MUSEUM AND CD ROM DEVELOPMENT in conjunction with the National Plastics Center and The World of Plastics Museum, Stein and Vining have completed an interactive CD ROM for high school students and the general public illustrating the synthesis, production, unique properties, and recycling of polymers. Efforts are currently focusing on creating a navigation network for the CD ROM and a series of animated sequences on the synthesis and molding processes of polymers. Also the Center hosted a workshop for Middle and High School teachers in March 2000 where representatives from the National Plastics Center and Museum provided live demonstrations on polymers and a follow-up teacher workshop on the integration of polymer education in the classroom. The World of Plastics CD-ROM was distributed at this workshop.
 
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