“Education is Elementary” Outreach Program
We have created and implemented a highly successful program with eight separate sessions involving hands-on activities designed to introduce the scientific process to fifth graders. Due to the inexpensive and biologically safe reagents and the detailed instructions, workbooks and assessment tools we have developed, many scientists could offer something similar to their local community if interested in achieving broader impact. The value in this program lies in its ability to engage our citizens in science at a young age, which may help cultivate a life-long interest in science. Through the program kids are also introduced to the potential for science as a career, to concepts in genetics and biochemistry, and to the value of studying model systems (an important idea that has not always been effectively conveyed to the general public). By working with the teachers over the 8 week period (please see Sample Module) we also reinforce concepts from their more traditional lessons. In addition, we have modules under development on topics like microscopic imaging and “big data”. Besides the ~600 fifth graders that have been involved in the program, we have also fostered outreach involvement for 8 postdoctoral fellows and 34 graduate and undergraduate students. Thus, the program also serves as a model to inspire our next generation of science educators.
For more information, see our paper: http://www.ncbi.nim.nih.gov/pubmed/22135354
Contact: Laurie Stargell