Saturday Morning Science welcomes school kids to campus

Feb. 1, 2012

Students participate in a hands-on activity during a session of Saturday Morning Science, a BCM outreach program.
Students participate in a hands-on activity during a session of Saturday Morning Science, a BCM outreach program.

The seventh year of the Saturday Morning Science Program at BCM kicked off last month, and with more than 200 local secondary school students participating, it is the largest session yet.

Founded in 2005 by Dr. Jim Phillips, senior associate dean and professor of pediatrics at BCM and director of the Office of Diversity and Community Outreach, Saturday Morning Science is a community outreach program aimed at motivating students from 7th through 12th grades from underserved areas to reach their highest potential. The students represent more than 40 middle and high schools throughout the greater Houston area.

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

The program includes lectures and workshops that are conducted on the BCM campus starting in January and ending in May. 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 entails a presentation by a BCM faculty member based on their clinical or research interests. Medical and graduate students lead break-out sessions where they complete an activity that reinforces the lecture topic. Everyone then re-convenes and a representative from each group presents their findings from the activity.

For an additional community impact, science and/or health teachers from the schools with students in the SMS program also participate in the program and have the opportunity during student break-out sessions to speak one-on-one with the faculty presenters.

Annual highlights of the program include a trip to NASA's Johnson Space Center and a college fair. In September of 2010, the Saturday Morning Science program was awarded the Innovative Program Model Award from the National Association of Medical Minority Educators at their annual meeting in Richmond, Va.

For additional information about the SMS program or to make a donation, please contact Dr. Jim Phillips at or 713-798-6598. Additional information about the program can be found on the website for the Office Diversity and Community Outreach.

The schedule of presenters for the remainder of the 2012 program is:

  • Feb. 4, Dr. Melvyn Harrington, associate professor of orthopedic surgery/residency program director, "Total Knee Replacement"
  • Feb. 18, Dr. Scott Basinger, associate dean/associate professor of ophthalmology and neuroscience, "Drugs and the Brain"
  • March 3, Dr. Dhaval Parekh, assistant professor of pediatrics – cardiology, "Cardiology Made Easy"
  • March 17, Dr. Gerardo Cabrera-Meza, associate professor of pediatrics, "Saving High Risk Babies"
  • March 24, Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine and professor of pediatrics," Neglected Tropical Diseases"
  • April 14, Dr. Tanya Stephens, associate professor, MD Anderson Cancer Center, "Diagnostic Radiology"
  • April 28, Steve Fitzhugh, former NFL player and author, motivator and humorist
  • May 12, College Fair and talk by Dr. Jim Phillips, "Selecting Your College"