Education, excitement about learning, and a sense of curiosity were the themes of the day as Harvard undergraduates and the Allston children they mentor joined Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, Harvard President Drew Faust, and dozens of Allston families to celebrate the Harvard Allston Education Portal on Nov. 21.
Experiments showcasing everyday activities of the Education Portal — from freezing flowers in liquid nitrogen to discovering the molecular structure of mushrooms under microscopes — made the day vivid and memorable. But it was the personal connections that help make learning happen that took center stage.
Groups of Harvard students and the children and youth they mentor introduced themselves and event speakers to an audience of more than 150 people.
After being introduced by Harvard senior Hannah Chung as “educator-in-chief,” Faust called the portal a gateway into Harvard teaching, learning, and research. “The education portal is part of a partnership that will grow and strengthen between Harvard and the Allston community,” she said. “It builds on Harvard’s commitment to education not just within its own walls, but within the communities in which we live and work.”
“This portal is a wonderful way for the young people of this neighborhood to have the training they need in math, science, and writing to succeed in school and in life,” said Menino. “What I see here are many generations coming together to help the young people of this neighborhood. This is a great partnership model.”
Robert A. Lue, faculty director of the portal and professor of molecular and cellular biology and director of Life Sciences Education at Harvard, said that it offered Harvard and Allston a chance “to share our circulatory systems; to come together in a place where we can explore exciting ideas and try to figure out what it is that really gets the hearts pumping and what sets the minds on fire for young people.” He added that the Education Portal gives Harvard an opportunity to “grow its community even further,” to explore together how to teach better and at the same time give local children a “rich life of the mind.”
The six-month-old Education Portal is a new city-university-community educational partnership that highlights the priority Menino and Harvard place on supporting local education. It complements and enhances Harvard’s deep, existing engagement around after-school and lifelong learning, school improvement, and college preparation. The Ed Portal is open Monday-Thursday, 3-6 p.m. More than 400 Allston residents are members and 62 children are currently receiving mentoring in science, math, and writing at the portal.