“I’ve never seen a museum inside of a University,” said 10-year old Sabrina Ortiz from Boston Public School’s Elihu Greenwood Leadership Academy standing inside the Harvard Museum of Natural History, “Its amazing and inspiring me to learn.”

She summed up the goal of the Harvard visit with those final words.

Ortiz was part of a group of 30 students from the Greenwood who visited Harvard University for a multi-faceted campus experience as part of Step UP’s “Science Across the Semester.”  The fourth grade students spent the whole school day on Harvard’s campus April 12.  The mission: to engage in an authentic college campus visit where science learning is highlighted.

Like any other Harvard college student, these BPS children enjoyed lunch in Harvard’s historic, wood-paneled Annenberg Hall, They sat on the green outside Annenberg and learned first hand what college life is like from Jorge Pozo, a graduate student at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, who also encouraged the students to achieve their dreams with his own personal story.

They toured the Harvard Museum of Natural History, and later received four free passes to return with their families.  Then when they thought they had seen it all, the students took in the sights of the oldest college campus in the nation under the expert guidance of Harvard college students.

“These exposures to college and campus science are a small example of what Harvard is doing through Step UP to support teaching and learning,” said Emily Barr, program coordinator at the Harvard Achievement Support Initiative. “It’s incredibly satisfying for us to watch their eyes light up  — to be part of an initiative that is providing opportunities for new experiences that will motivate these Boston Public School children.”

The Greenwood field trip was one of a series of four Harvard Step UP visits on campus this April that gave 140 fourth and fifth graders at the Greenwood and Louis Agassiz Elementary Schools their first in-depth experience incorporating both college life and campus science.  Harvard participates in a range of early college awareness programs that bring a total of about 700 local children onto Harvard’s campus each year.

Step UP is a collaboration among local universities and Boston schools that promotes student achievement. Harvard is a founding member of Step UP and has been offering after-school program support, learning materials, and professional development at the schools for the past four years.