Environmental education center gets city kids started down the path to science.

Just a stone's throw from streets sprinkled with shattered glass, in a largely African-American west Philadelphia neighborhood, exists a convergence of labs, volunteers, educators, and most importantly, eager students. We established the Cobbs Creek Environmental Education Center in 1991 to tap a shamefully underused resource: the brainpower and creativity of inner-city kids who may never have considered studying science, let alone pursuing it as a career.

Most recently, our Advanced Placement Environmental Science Program has been getting results. Offered to Philadelphia high school students, the year-long course includes 10 hours of classroom instruction each week, lab work, and field study. Participants have been accepted at colleges including Temple University and Penn State, received internships at the Wistar Institute and the Philadelphia Zoo, and won prizes in science fairs.

By piquing interest, providing knowledge and experience, and offering support,...

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