Studying these cells could lead to new treatments for diseases ranging from gastrointestinal disease to diabetes.
MIT's Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program has received a $25,000 grant from the Boston Bruins Foundation.
The grant will support talented but underserved middle school students who are spending the summer at MIT working out algebraic equations, performing chemistry experiments, and studying probability and statistics.
Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) is one of the School of Engineering's four precollege outreach programs. The five-week summer program, which also includes lighter topics such as squash lessons at the Zesiger Center, began July 5 and will run until Aug. 5. STEM also includes an academic-year mentoring program and parent workshops.
"You have to see the enthusiasm of the students as they discover math and science concepts," said Dedric A. Carter, executive director of the Office of Engineering Outreach Programs.
There are 70 students enrolled in STEM this year, up from 40 when the program began in 2004. The program, which is offered free of charge to participants, is directed by Nicole Stark.
Paul Stewart, director of development for the Boston Bruins Foundation, was instrumental in recommending the grant to the MIT program. A former professional hockey player and NHL referee, Stewart visited a STEM class last year and observed students building model bridges. He subsequently suggested the program apply for a grant from the foundation.
On July 24, Stewart and Jay Southwood of the Boston Bruins Foundation joined Carter, STEM students and others at an event celebrating the grant.
The STEM program has also received major support from the Charles Hayden Foundation over the past three years. The Lord Foundation has also supported the program.
"We're teaching the students about conceptual thinking and problem solving in advanced subject areas. STEM offers these middle school students a tremendous opportunity for active engagement in learning," Carter said. "We are so grateful to the Bruins Foundation and the Hayden and Lord foundations. Without their support, these students would not have access to this valuable program."