BioQuest Academy: Creating an Innovative Immersion Program for Teens

Project Website(s)

  • Project Description

    To refine a successful pilot science immersion program into a model program with the help of project advisors whereby students are ably supported in their progression towards science technology engineering and math careers (STEM) To successfully engage students and promote greater cohort interest and competence in science and biomedical research topics and careers via new instructional tools and tactics – both online and in SBRI-s dedicated learning laboratory (BioQuest Discovery Lab) To develop a supportive learning community for program participants critical to the attraction of a more diversified cohort; and subsequently the development of a more diversified research workforce To disseminate investigation outcomes and innovative instructional resources to a global online audience via the BioQuest Virtual Researcher website (BVR)

  • Abstract

    This application outlines Seattle Biomedical Research Institute’s (SBRI) investigation of the impact of an innovative science immersion program called the BioQuest Academy (BQA). The investigation builds upon a two-year pilot program and its documented results. SBRI seeks Phase I and Phase II funding support from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) to amplify prior success with 58 participating 11th grade high school students from socio-economically and ethnically varied Washington state communities. The proposed five-year research project will strategically expand the proven pilot BQA-resulting in greater understanding of the best practices for a science immersion program with a biomedical focus; delivering new print and online resources for a local and national audience and providing direct benefits for the 180 participating teens from a spectrum of communities. Designed with a goal to provide young adults who demonstrate science predilection with access to authentic biomedical research thereby promoting confidence and skills early in their scientific career pathways the pilot BQA responds to the published concerns regarding national trends in science and the mounting anxiety regarding the lack of real-world career-preparative experiences for youth. The proposed five-year investigation responds to published recommendations for after-school programs the desires most frequently expressed by pilot BQA graduates for longer sessions and enduring contact with SBRI: Foremost BQA will foster science career interest. SBRI is poised to take a significant role in increasing public understanding of how the life sciences can have a direct positive impact on lives around the world while illuminating the science that underlies SBRI’s mission to eliminate the world’s most devastating infectious diseases through leadership in scientific discovery. With National Center for Research Resource’s investment in a strategically expanded BQA SBRI can demonstrate to tomorrow’s leaders firsthand how they personally can change the world for the better through scientific research.

  • Dissemination Strategies

    Draft BVR plans Draft tactics for in-school activities (Summer 2008 Academy students serve as hosts) Portland OR 2008 NSTA conference curriculum

  • Project Evaluation(s)

    Student Interviews and Curriculum Comparisons: Students will be interviewed mid-year of their first year of college. Using data from interviews students can communicate descriptive information and narrative stories of their transformation as they move from high school juniors and seniors to college students. Students will be able to describe specific abilities acquired by participating in the BQA. Dr. Grubin will review the curriculum materials to determine strengths and weaknesses and to ensure alignment with national and state standards. Teaming with the SEF the curriculum expert will refine materials to improve learning effectiveness. Student Pre/Post Tests and Standardized Achievement Tests: Quality of materials and experiences should be assessed through investigation of student learning outcomes therefore students will be asked to complete pre- and post-tests at the BQA. Questions will pertain to the direct benefits of the program (i.e. acquisition of a range of skills and knowledge; confidence in sharing new knowledge; and interest in a career in biomedical research or a related field). Analysis of variance will be used to check for comparable outcomes for diverse teens. Because BQA students were not randomly selected we have chosen to compare their scores on a standardized assessment given to students nationally. College Board SAT Subject Tests are designed to measure students’ knowledge and skills in particular subject areas as well as their ability to apply that knowledge. Student Demographics and Science Education Fellow Interviews: To track participation of targeted teens demographic questions pertaining to race ethnicity and gender will be included on the student pre-test. Results compared to program targets and recruitment will be adjusted accordingly to maintain representation of underserved teens. To document program processes and outcomes formal interviews will be conducted with each SEF each fall. The open-ended nature of interviews allows participants to answer from their own frame of reference as a means of capturing their interpretation of the program. Interview questions will clarify outcomes of the program and probe for descriptive information specific to the direct benefits of the program. The analysis be qualitative and inductive. Emergent themes will be described and documented informed by the goals of the program. Website Tracking and Online Pre/Post Tests: Embedded tools will help us determine the size and location of the community of users and the extent of dissemination. When users access the site they will be asked to include their ZIP code. BQA students will be given a password for access to relevant follow-up materials and information. Embedded assessment of gains in content comprehension will be determined through the inclusion of embedded queries in the resources designed by the multimedia contractor (see BVR section). Semi-annual reports will allow for modification of content to improve understanding.

  • Resources for Sharing

    New student-tested draft wet-lab curriculum including: Evaluating potential HIV vaccine targets using immunological tools Exploring the impact of Plasmodium diversity on developing new malaria vaccines Investigating African trypanosomiasis drug development through gene expression research Experience using teens as curriculum consultants/interns for new curriculum (see above). Draft BVR concepts and themes – including team research on current popular tools (e.g. Second Life Facebook and IM texting) and contemporary research findings on teen media use.

  • Additional Information

    Link to Publication:

Project Audience

Most directly high school juniors and their families teachers and student peers. Through the development of a project Wiki community and related online media the project will indirectly deliver new engaging curriculum and communication tools related to project-content areas to a larger local and national audience.

Subjects Addressed

Infectious diseases biomedical research global health policy science careers and college pathways.