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Posted: November 15, 2007

Advanced microscope donated for science programs at Philadelphia's Central High

(Nanowerk News) Philadelphia’s Central High will be the nation's first high school to gain access to nanoscale (inner space) exploration with a new Phenom™ microscope donated by FEI Company. The system is an advanced tool designed to change how science and technology are taught, and to encourage students to pursue science-based careers at a time when student enrollment in science and technology programs is at a critically low level. The Phenom provides magnification up to 20,000 (20x that of most high-end light microscopes) with a resolution of 30nm. It will be used by the Minority Student Training Program, headed by Betty Thompkins (a microscopist at Albert Einstein Medical Center’s pathology department) who founded the program in 1995 for talented but at-risk students. It will be used to teach 15-20 students accepted into the program (from all ethnic groups) and for other Central High science courses.
In December 2006, the Minority Student Training program suffered a devastating setback when a facilities flood destroyed the program’s aging electron microscopes. With the gift of FEI's new Phenom tabletop scanning electron microscope (SEM) and NASA’s new Virtual Microscopy teaching modality for public schools, the program can continue. Betty’s advocacy on behalf of her students has made numerous positive contributions to their lives and the program has inspired nearly 100 students to pursue college level studies in a variety of disciplines.
Central High School – 1700 West Olney Avenue at Ogontz, Philadelphia, 19141
Monday, November 19, 2007
8:00 a.m. ET – Breakfast with Astronaut Alan Bean
9:00 a.m. ET – Keynote address and dedication assembly for students
10:00 a.m. ET – Media Q&A / demos on stage (these can also be arranged before or after)
Commander Alan Bean, Apollo 12 lunar module pilot, the fourth man in history to set foot on the moon and commander of Skylab mission II, will present the keynote address at the dedication ceremony, encouraging students to accomplish the challenges and dreams of their own lives and professions.
Also available for comment at the event will be:
  • Betty Thompkins, founder of the Minority Student Training Program at Central High
  • Alumni of the Minority Student Training Program
  • Dr. Sheldon Pavel, president of Central High School
  • Dr. Steven Berger, executive vice president of FEI technologies
  • Representatives from the Philadelphia School District
  • About the Minority Student Training Program:
    The program began for Betty Thompkins as a means of giving something back to the local community. Betty’s goal was a simple one: design an inspiring curriculum to give at-risk students an opportunity to explore the wonders of microscopy. Betty saw the program as a vehicle to interest these students in science careers, while providing a legitimate way to escape some of life's painful realities.
    Betty had no fiscal support, only the moral support of her then department chairman, Dr. Robert Forester, who had a soft spot in his heart for aspiring young scientists. She shared her vision with the existing principal of Central High School, Dr. Sheldon Pavel, who instantly agreed that the program would be a good addition to the curriculum. Drawing from her own bank account and small donations from a circle of personal friends who believed in her vision, Betty developed the program which today, is a much sought-after elective course and prestigious program at Central High.
    About FEI Company:
    FEI (Nasdaq:FEIC) is a world leader in pioneering industry-leading technologies and applications that deliver imaging solutions for 3D characterization, analysis and modification/prototyping with resolutions down to the sub-Ångström level. Our customers, working in advanced research and manufacturing, are supported by field-experienced applications specialists and open access to FEI’s prestigious global user network so they can succeed in accelerating nanoscale discovery and contribute to better living through new product commercialization. FEI’s NanoPorts in North America, Europe and Asia provide centers of technical excellence where our world-class community of customers and specialists collaborate on the ongoing development of new ideas and innovative solutions. FEI has sales and service operations in more than 50 countries around the world. More information can be found at:
    The Phenom was funded in part by a federal grant provided to ONAMI (Department of Energy Solar Energy Program under Award Number DE-FG36-06GO86073 and the Department of Energy Biological and Environmental Research under Award Number DE-FG02-06ER64248) and a European Union stimulus grant to FEI.
    Source: FEI
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