When Jarrod Lockhart was a student at Tarrant High School, he was interested in pursuing a career in medicine. He wasn’t sure which discipline would be the best fit for him, but he was leaning toward optometry.
|Jarrod Lockhart (far right) leads a group of middle school students to collect a water sample from Roebuck Springs at Don Hawkins Park. Lockhart, an alumni of CORD’s Summer Science Institute, is the program coordinator for CORD’s Regional Science and Engineering Fair and its middle-school environmental camp, sharing his knowledge of science and research with middle- and high-school children.|
Lockhart was looking for something to do the summer prior to his senior year at Tarrant when his brother, UAB graduate Jason Lockhart, told him about the scientific research at the university.
A phone call from Cynthia Scott, director of Minority Retention, led to a conversation with Shirley Ginwright, program director at the UAB Center for Community OutReach Development (CORD). Ginwright then gave Lockhart the opportunity to participate in CORD’s Summer Science Institute’s Research Internship Program.
Seven years later, Lockhart is the program coordinator for CORD’s Regional Science and Engineering Fair and its middle-school environmental camp, sharing his knowledge of science and research with middle- and high-school children.
“It really has been fun,” he says. “The kids have been great, and they have done a number of experiments, such as ozone readings, using GPS units to calculate latitude and longitude, testing the pH levels in water and learning about noise pollution. Our main goal is to introduce the area students to environmental factors that can affect their health and how these factors can be studied.”
Lockhart remembers vividly his summer experience in CORD as an incoming high-school senior. His conducted research in vascular biology and hypertension, presented his findings at the end of the summer and was honored for his work.
“I can’t remember if I came in second or third in the competition, but I was offered a student-assistantship at CORD,” he says. “Throughout my undergraduate experience at UAB, I worked for CORD and taught in their middle- and high-school laboratories in area schools and at the CORD teaching labs.”
J. Michael Wyss, Ph.D., UAB CORD director, says Lockhart has made a tremendous impact on the program, both as a student in the Summer Science Institute and as the coordinator of CORD’s Central Alabama Regional Science and Engineering Fair, an event featuring the best and brightest of the area’s science students.
Making a difference
“Jarrod is fantastic,” Wyss says. “He’s visited many schools where he has helped students carry out experiments and assisted them in developing their own science-fair projects.
“The kids obviously respond to him, both for the fair and in the camps. In fact, I just received a letter from a parent commenting on Jarrod’s work with her child this summer. He’s making a difference.”
Lockhart recognizes that children really enjoy the program. He says the work is important because many of the students involved would not otherwise get hands-on exposure to a wide variety of research tools and science studies.
“Many of the students we work with are in school districts that lack the resources that I was fortunate enough to have at CORD and UAB,” he says.
“It’s amazing to me how little experience they have with even simple lab instruments. It’s definitely caused me to be more driven in the science-education arena.”
So much so, in fact, that the career he once thought about pursuing in medicine just might not materialize.
“My experience here has really made me fall in love with education,” he says. “I love and enjoy working with the kids. I’m thinking about pursuing a master’s degree in science education and becoming a certified teacher.”