The first time I visited Elmont Memorial High School in New York’s Nassau County almost eight years ago, then-principal Al Harper showed me the space where he had carved out the science research lab. It was crammed with myriad equipment. Just what I can’t remember, except that there was a cage and some microscopes and beakers and it smelled vaguely of animals — maybe lab mice. It wasn’t a jumble, but in reality it was a small office clearly being used by more than a couple of students.

Harper told me he had gotten a small grant to start the lab and had great hopes for expanding the science research class and propelling some of his students into scientific careers.

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