April 25, 2016 - Larry Bencivengo, science teacher at Mercer Island High School, has been awarded a grant in the Partners in Science program of the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. During the next two summers, he will be conducting basic science research with Dr. Russell Van Gelder, professor and chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Washington and director of the UW Medicine Eye Institute.
“This is a tremendous honor for Larry and for our district to receive this grant,” said Superintendent Dr. Gary Plano. “He is an outstanding teacher and our students will benefit from his participation in basic research at UW.”
Dr. Van Gelder's lab is researching a method to restore vision to people with certain types of retinal degeneration, Bencivengo said.
“I have found experiences working in labs provide me with invaluable insights into the working life of actual scientists,” Bencivengo said. “Students who are interested in science benefit from finding out what the daily working life of a researcher is actually like, and the more experiences I have, the better I will understand the diversity of research experiences.
“I have also changed the way I teach in response to these summer programs. For example, I now include a computer-programming project in all my classes after seeing how essential this skill set has become in every lab I worked in or visited. I feel excited to get back to school where I can share my experiences with students.”
Following each summer of research, he will share his work at both regional and national Partners in Science conferences.
Bencivengo has taught at MIHS for 22 years and was honored as one of the district’s Teachers of the Year in 2015.
These grants were awarded through a competitive process in the Partners in Science program at the Murdock Trust. Learn more about the program at www.sciencepartners.org.
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