Project Narrative BRAIN-STEM The goal of this project is to increase the number of students from rural areas who pursue careers in healthcare with the understanding that one of the strongest and most consistently reported predictors of practicing in rural areas is where one grew up. This will be accomplished by developing an educational program that increases academic, research, and metacognitive skills important for succeeding in the STEM subjects relevant to healthcare profession training. This project will further benefit society by sparking interest in and providing foundational knowledge about relevant health issues in neuroscience, addiction and concussion, that high school students and teachers can affect within their own community.
The overarching goal of this SEPA R25 project is to increase rural student interest in pursuing a career in the health care professions, and in so doing help address the higher morbidity and mortality in rural communities associated with the shortage of health care professionals. To accomplish this we will develop and implement a transformative educational program for rural 9th-12th grade students, Building Rural Aspirations In Neuroscience with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (BRAIN- STEM) that will use research-based strategies to address the key modifiable barriers that limit rural student interest in and the ability to succeed in health care careers. Namely, BRAIN-STEM will (1) Improve academic, research, and metacognitive skills important in succeeding in the STEM subjects relevant to health care profession training, and thereby increase students’ perceived self-efficacy in pursuing these careers, (2) provide role models and mentors for students, and (3) ignite high school student interest in the health care professions. These aims will be accomplished through 5-day summer camps and afterschool programs. The summer camp is designed to spark student interest in the health care professions and introduce academic, research and metacognitive skills development. These topics will be covered in more depth during the afterschool program. Both the summer camp and afterschool program curricula will include a combination of established (e.g., inquiry-based learning) and innovative (e.g., metacognitive skill development) pedagogical techniques that will conform to the NGSS standards. Importantly, the BRAIN-STEM curriculum will be developed in close collaboration with our teacher partners. BRAIN-STEM participants will work extensively with Clarkson Faculty and near-peer students, who will serve as mentors and role models. These mentors and role models along with our teacher partners will be trained in professional development workshops that will enable them to guide students through the research process; develop academic, research and metacognitive skills; teach the process of evidence-based medicine; and provide encouragement to pursue healthcare-related careers. To ignite student interest in the health care professions BRAIN-STEM will have students work on two brain-related clinical problems that are personally relevant, important, and have local significance: addiction and concussion. Finally, all curriculum and best practices will be broadly disseminated through a state-of the art web application, open-source lesson plans, journal publications, conference presentations, and a broad range of other delivery mechanisms (subsequent camps, academic year enrichment class, and integrated into other outreach programs). BRAIN-STEM will accomplish all of this by leveraging Clarkson University’s faculty expertise and strong partnerships with surrounding school districts and health care professionals.