The MENTORS Project will establish partnerships for the development of K-12 curricular modules and career development activities designed to stimulate interest in and preparation for careers in science, technology, engineering and medicine. The project is focused on rural schools/districts with high proportions of students who are underserved and/or underrepresented in science and medicine. Project materials will also promote healthy behaviors and disease prevention.
The goal of the MENTORS (Model Education Networks to Optimize Rural Science) Project is to actualize an exportable model of development and dissemination of culturally relevant and innovative programs that stimulate interest in and enhance preparation for careers in science, technology, engineering and medicine. Integrated components that will provide mentoring and career preparation include: summer research internships, science exploration camp, Field Experiences (FEs), and innovative classroom activities for students, and a rigorous professional development (PD) program for K-12 teachers. Our project will build strong partnerships between biomedical, engineering, public health and education researchers at Texas A&M University and K-12 teachers, school/district administrators, students and parents. MENTORS focuses on school districts that are rural and have a high proportion of students who are underserved and/or underrepresented in science and medicine. Such districts often lack programs to optimally prepare students for STEM careers. The multi-disciplinary Project team, which includes experts in biomedical, health disparities and biomedical engineering research as well as K-12 educational theory, curriculum development and evaluation, will work with classroom teachers to develop innovative, career based, educational modules focused on 21st century skills. The Specific Aims of the MENTORS Project are: 1. To provide authentic research and field experiences (FEs) for elementary, middle and high school students, designed to enhance STEM education and stimulate interest in and pursuit of a broad variety of science, technology, engineering and health-related careers. 2. To engage a network of K-12 teachers and biomedical, public health, biomedical engineering and educational researchers to develop learner-centered, career focused educational modules that will attract and motivate students, particularly those who are traditionally underrepresented in science, medicine and technology. 3. To provide rigorous professional development for K-12 teachers in TX, through an established and impactful Summer Institute (SI). All activities and products will be extensively evaluated using a mixed methods approach, with a variety of instruments designed to collect and analyze the most pertinent data. These will assess the effectiveness of the model as a whole, and of the components, in achieving the objectives of enhancing student interest and developing the skills needed for educational and career success.