Saturday Morning Science welcomes new group of students to campus

February 1, 2011

Students particpating in the Saturday Morning Science program
Students particpating in the Saturday Morning Science program

The sixth year of the Saturday Morning Science (SMS) program at Baylor College of Medicine launched last month with 170 students participating – the most in the program's history.

The community outreach program is geared toward students in grades 7 through 12 from underserved areas of Houston. More than 40 middle and high schools in greater Houston are represented. Saturday Morning Science was developed by Dr. James Phillips, senior associate dean at BCM, director of the Office of Diversity and Community Outreach and professor of pediatrics.

"The program emphasizes the importance of a good, solid education and exposes students to careers in the biosciences," Phillips said. "One of our main goals is to reinforce the idea that college is not an option, but an obligation."

Typical workshops

Students in the program spend Saturday mornings from January to May at lectures and workshops on the BCM campus. The sessions stress the importance of math and science in a creative and fun way and are taught by physicians, scientists, astronauts and BCM medical and graduate students.

A typical Saturday includes a lecture by a BCM faculty member based on their clinical or research interests. Medical and graduate students lead break-out sessions where the program participants complete an activity that reinforces the lecture topic. Everyone then re-convenes and a representative from each group presents their findings from the activity.

Remaining sessions include Dr. Gerardo Cabrera-Meza, "Saving High Risk Babies"; Dr. Judith Campbell, "Outbreak Investigation"; Dr. Scott Basinger, "Drugs and the Brain"; Dr. Wah Chiu, "3D Molecular Imaging"; Dr. Chester Brown, "Human Genetics in the 21st Century"; and Dr. Dhaval Parekh, "Cardiology Made Easy."

Teacher involvement

Starting last year, science and health teachers from schools with students in the program were also invited to attend, and teacher attendance is expected to increase this year. Teachers participate in the workshops and have the opportunity to speak one-on-one with the presenters.

Other highlights of the program include a trip to the NASA Johnson Space Center and a college fair. Some of the colleges and universities that have participated are the University of Houston, University of Texas at Austin and Dallas, Texas A&M University, Texas Woman's University, St. Mary's University, Huston-Tillotson University, University of Oklahoma, Cornell University, Texas Southern University, San Jacinto College (two-year), Houston Community College (two-year), Lone Star College (two-year) and several others.

The SMS program was awarded the "Innovative Program Model" Award in September 2010 from the National Association of Medical Minority Educators at its annual meeting in Richmond, Va.

For more information about Saturday Morning Science or to make a donation, contact Dr. Phillips at or 713-798-6598.