By G. Michael Dobbs
SPRINGFIELD Jessica Nieves of Springfield is looking at yeast through a microscope as part of a lab exercise at St. Michael's Academy. Her new digital microscope doesn't require her to squint through an eyepiece and even records images for later study.
Months previous, Nieves wouldn't have had such a microscope.
Her microscope and other equipment in the eighth grade science lab was provided through a $7,065 grant from the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Connecticut and Western Massachusetts (RMHC).
Officials from St. Michael's Academy met with Craig Carr, RHMC board member, on Feb. 18 to formally accept the grant and to show its benefits.
When the Springfield Diocese combined five Catholic schools to create St. Michael's Academy, eighth grade science teacher Sylvia Kaimi recognized a problem: not only did the five schools have different lab equipment, much of it was in worn condition.
Nelly deCarvalho, head administrator of St. Michael's Academy, explained that school officials and teachers "realized we were lacking many things."
Kaimi investigated some funding avenues and applied to RMHC.
Prior to the purchase of the new digital microscopes, Kaimi explained she had to instruct students separately on how to use the different microscopes in the lab, which took time away from the lab exercises.
"It was frustrating to me and frustrating to the students that I couldn't help everyone at the same time," she said.
The grant also provided the classroom with hot plates and digital thermometers, Kaimi added. The hotplates can stir liquids, which she said also helps students who no longer have to take lab time to stir a solution.
Carr said, "It's a pleasure to see what the funds have provided."
She added that in more than 20 years, RMHC has provided in excess of $6 million to more than 400 non-profit groups.
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