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UMass Chan, Moderna partner to provide microscopes to Worcester middle schools

Mary Pickering with one of the new microscopes being donated to Worcester Public Schools through ScienceLIVE
Mary Pickering, PhD, RTI director of public engagement with science, with one of the donated light microscopes.

Dozens of new microscopes will be delivered to six Worcester middle schools thanks to a partnership between UMass Chan Medical School and Moderna.

ScienceLIVE (Learning with Interactive Virtual Education), a STEM outreach program managed by staff from the RNA Therapeutics Institute and the Sanderson Center of Optical Experimentation at UMass Chan, received a grant from the Moderna Foundation, the nonprofit charitable arm of the Cambridge biotechnology company, for $55,000 to outfit the Worcester schools with new light microscopes.

The ScienceLIVE team is working closely with Worcester middle school teachers to create content for students that incorporates the new microscopes.

“The new microscopes will open up new opportunities for our students, provide easier access to learning and increase the range of specimens that we can look at,” said Lynne Geitz, PhD, science department chair at Worcester East Middle School. “The students will be over the moon. They love this kind of hands-on work, and we are excited to see their curiosity open.”

The light microscopes are equipped with Wi-Fi capability and cameras for simultaneous multiple-user visualization. They will be delivered to the schools during the 2023-2024 academic year.

ScienceLIVE is a UMass Chan outreach program for Worcester area middle school students that was launched during the pandemic to provide learning modules with demonstrations and experiments designed for virtual teaching.

The program was co-founded by Angela Messmer-Blust, PhD, associate professor of RNA therapeutics and senior scientific advisor in the RNA Therapeutics Institute; Athma A. Pai, PhD, assistant professor of RNA therapeutics; Christina E. Baer, PhD, assistant professor of microbiology & physiological systems and director of the Sanderson Center for Optical Experimentation; and Mary Pickering, PhD, RTI director of public engagement with science.