Over 80% of jobs in the future will require skills in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM). Yet the U.S. is lagging far behind in training students who will pursue STEM careers, especially students who are minority, female, disadvantaged, or from rural/urban underserved populations. The Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) is intended to develop innovative STEM programs to increase student excitement about STEM and eventually enter a STEM field.
The NIH Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) program of Emory University endeavors to use an over-arching theme of Citizen Science principles to meet the goals of this proposal are to: 1) develop an innovative curriculum based on citizen science and experiential learning to evaluate the efficacy of informal science education in after-school settings; 2) promote biomedical scientific careers in under-represented groups targeting females for Girls for Science summer research experiences; 3) train teachers in Title I schools to implement this citizen science based curriculum; and 4) disseminate the citizen science principles through outreach. This novel, experiential science and engineering program, termed Experiential Citizen Science Training for the Next Generation (ExCiTNG), encompasses community-identified topics reflecting NIH research priorities. The curriculum is mapped to Next Generation Science Standards. A comprehensive evaluation plan accompanies each program component, composed of short- and/or longer-term outcome measures. We will use our existing outreach program (Students for Science) along with scientific community partnerships (Atlanta Science Festival) to implement key aspects of the program throughout the state of Georgia. These efforts will be overseen by a central Steering Committee composed of leadership of the Community Education Research Program of the Emory/Morehouse/Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta Clinical Translational Science Institute (NIH CTSA), the Principal Investigators, representatives of each program component, and an independent K-12 STEM evaluator from the Georgia Department of Education. The Community Advisory Board, including educators, parents, and community members, will help guide the program’s implementation and monitor progress. A committee of NIH-funded investigators, representing multiple NIH institutes along with experienced science writers, will lead the effort for dissemination and assure that on-going and new NIH research priorities are integrated into the program’s curriculum over time.