For the third consecutive year, ExxonMobil has provided support for high school teachers and students to learn about the natural and applied sciences as participants in the summer research program at Hope College.

A $7,000 grant to the college is supporting the participation of students in Project REACH (Research Experiences Across Cultures at Hope) this summer. The award was presented at Hope on Wednesday, July 20, by Matt Van Zanten and Abigail Albers, representing J&H Oil, a local ExxonMobil branded fuels marketing distributor.

The REACH program is a six-week immersion for high school students and teachers engaging in challenging and relevant research projects with Hope's science, engineering and mathematics faculty. The goal is to provide meaningful learning experiences to the students as they consider their interest in pursuing careers in one of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields in college, and to involve teachers in research activity that they can in turn apply to their own classroom teaching. The emphasis has been on recruiting students who come from backgrounds underrepresented in STEM careers.

This has been the program's sixth summer, and a total of 77 students and eight teachers have participated across the history of the program. The REACH program was initially funded through support to the college from the National Science Foundation and internal sources, with support continuing through a four-year grant to Hope from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) in the spring of 2008. This summer's REACH program, which is concluding this week, has included 15 high school students and three teachers working with 14 Hope faculty and staff on a total of nine research projects.

Project REACH reflects the college's ongoing commitment to continuing and expanding its long-running emphasis on student-faculty research as a teaching tool. In addition to working on projects during the school year, regularly more than 160 students conduct research full-time for several weeks each summer with faculty mentors. Those participating in summer research at the college include not only Hope students and the Project REACH participants but also students from other colleges and universities supported through National Science Foundation "Research Experiences for Undergraduates" (NSF-REU) grants awarded to departments within the natural and applied sciences at Hope.