UC Irvine biology professor Eloy Rodriguez has received a $639,000 grant to support science education programs and science summer camps for minority and low-income children.
The three-year award was given by the California Postsecondary Education Commission's Eisenhower Grant Program, university officials said.
It will help pay for Rodriguez's KIDS camp (Kids Inventing and Discovering Science), an intensive four-week summer school program at UCI for about 50 bilingual and Spanish-speaking students ages 5 to 11.
"A growing number of youngsters are left out of the educational loop, particularly if they are poor or not proficient in English," said Rodriguez, who recalled excelling in high school science classes yet was discouraged from pursuing college by guidance counselors.
"The KIDS program was designed to engage these students and to keep them excited about scientific inquiry," he said.
Rodriguez, 43, who studies toxicology in plants, said the summer camp will be expanded next year to include children from other ethnic groups.
The funds will also help support Project Storyline: Science, a model that Rodriguez and his colleagues are developing for teacher training and science instruction for children in kindergarten through eighth grades. The aim is to create 35 instructional courses that deal with basic scientific concepts. Twelve of those courses will be translated into Spanish.