Branching Out with Research

The summer internships that the Cleveland Clinic Office of Civic Education Initiatives offers to high school students last nine weeks – nine weeks of hands-on activities, intensive research, and observation. However, that experience doesn't stop after the nine weeks are through. As the years pass, interns are being offered more and more venues to showcase and share their research with others – from fellow high school students to healthcare professionals.


The Office of Civic Education Initiatives' eXpressions™ program has a simple goal: to bring research and creativity together. The program started with art, then expanded to include writing; the latest addition was mathematics. Students who participate analyze the research conducted by a summer intern and interpret it through an original piece - depending on the student's particular skills and interests, that piece can be art, writing, or mathematics. Since the 2005 creation of eXpressions™, 1,290 high school students have participated in the program.

This program has served to spread the summer interns' research even more. It requires a high school student to understand a research project so that it can be interpreted creatively. The sharing goes even further, though. A completed painting or poem could make the featured scientific research speak to a third party viewer in a way that a scientific write-up never could.

Trinity High School senior Leah Backo participated in eXpressions™ in 2008 and received a blue ribbon for her painting. "eXpressions™ is the greatest program ever," she says. "The two pieces I made for it are honestly the best two pieces in my portfolio. When you combine interpretation and all your personal emotions and feelings, you tend to end up with a masterpiece."

This painting, submitted to the eXpressions™ program by Leah Backo, represents the difference between healthy and harmful blood cells. Backo received a blue ribbon for the piece.