School spotlight: Summer program combines science and black history

Pamela Cotant:

For the last 14 years, a summer program has found a way to make learning about a particular area of science fun while also exposing elementary and middle school students to blacks who have made a difference in that field.
This year, flight was the theme for the program, called a Celebration of Life. In general, about two-thirds of those in attendance are returning participants like Synovia Knox, who also had four siblings who attended.
“Each year I would leave wanting to be someone else,” said Knox, who has attended since third grade. “They just make everyone seem so interesting.”
The annual event is one of the programs put on by the African American Ethnic Academy of Madison. The site of the program and its co-sponsor is the BioPharmaceutical Technology Center Institute, the non-profit affiliate of Promega, which offers the use of its Fitchburg facilities.
The program, which is held during the morning for two weeks, is divided into two sessions — one for students entering grades three through five and another for students going into grades six through eight. A total of 28 students attended this year and the organizers hope the numbers will grow, said Barbara Bielec, who helps run the Celebration of Life as the K-12 program coordinator for the BioPharmaceutical Technology Center Institute.

Promega offered the Madison School District free land in the mid-1990’s for a tech oriented Middle School. The offer was turned down and the proposed school eventually became Wright Middle School.