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Middle School

Animals as a Gateway to Science

“Kids may not know what an engineer is,” said Cummings assistant professor Megan Mueller, “but if they get hands-on experience in something emotionally important to them, that opens the door.” Illustration: Jude Buffum Read more about how animals are a gateway to science.


Students from the Blackstone Valley school districts have attended a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) conference hosted on the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University campus annually since 2008. Over 100 students from the Blackstone Valley—the southernmost towns in Worcester County, Mass.—participated. Professionals from a variety of STEM fields were recruited to present workshops designed to excite and motivate middle school students toward a career in science, technology, engineering or math.

Cummings School is a member of the Central Mass STEM Pipeline Network established by the State Board of Education in 2004. The network works to increase student interest and achievement in STEM areas and to promote the successful completion of post-secondary degrees or certificates in STEM subjects. Each year Cummings School faculty participate in Innovation Month in the Worcester Public Schools providing interactive veterinary presentations that bridge medicine and engineering to 7th graders in their classrooms and at special symposia and science fairs.

Gap Junction

Gap Junction is an after-school program for middle school students run by Cummings School student volunteers. Groups of middle school students from surrounding schools are brought to the Cummings School campus one afternoon per week for four weeks. During these afternoon sessions, the student volunteers conduct laboratories to illustrate a variety of subjects, including body systems, diseases and disease treatment. This program has been a success story for STEM education and veterinary school outreach in Central Massachusetts for more than 15 years.

Red Sox Scholars

Cummings School has hosted the Red Sox Scholars, a group of academically talented and financially challenged middle school students from the Boston Public Schools. These sixth-grade students spent the day holding lambs, grooming Cummings School's teaching horses, learning about anatomy, gathering rumen contents from Portia, the school's rumen-donor cow and learning the wonders of life on a veterinary school campus.

Gear Up

Worcester East Middle School's GEAR UP Program promotes higher education to low-income, first-generation students. Cummings School has hosted the students, providing them with a presentation on careers in veterinary medicine, along with an admissions discussion. In addition, the school's farm staff offered a presentation in order to provide students with an insight into a health professional program/school.