The Collaborative Research Experiences for Students and Teachers (CREST) program addresses systemic changes needed to overcome the difficulty of attracting young students to the study of science and ultimately to pursue careers in research and healthcare. The CREST program targets minority students from the capital region of central Pennsylvania who have historically been underrepresented in science and medicine. Selected 9th grade students will participate in summer research experiences for three consecutive years. The first two summer sessions will serve as an introduction to inquiry-based biomedical science. The program will culminate in a supervised research project in the third year. Students will work with faculty and undergraduate assistants from Lincoln University (designated a historically Black university) and Penn State College of Medicine. The CREST program also will target high school science teachers by providing professional development programs through summer science academies at Penn State Harrisburg. During these sessions the teachers will learn how to incorporate laboratory experiences into their daily teaching programs while earning graduate credit.
The proposed Collaborative Research Experiences for Students and Teachers (CREST) program addresses systemic changes needed to overcome the problem of attracting young students to science followed by their anticipated entry into research and healthcare careers. The CREST program will focus on Harrisburg Pa. state-capital area high schools with large populations of minority students who at present are underrepresented in the research and healthcare arenas. The program will provide carefully selected 9th grade students (a total of 100 for the five years) with summer research experiences during three consecutive years of their high school education. The first two summer sessions (between the 9th and 10th and the 10th and 11th grades) will serve as an introduction to inquiry-based biomedical science and will lead to the performance of a supervised research project within research laboratories at the Penn State College of Medicine between the 11th and 12th grades. These students will be guided by College of Medicine faculty research mentors working in collaboration with undergraduate student teaching assistants from both nearby Lincoln University (a historically Black university) and from two already established summer undergraduate research programs at the College of Medicine. These teaching assistants will further serve as role models for the high school student participants. The proposed CREST program will focus equally on high school students and science teachers (total of 20 of the latter for the five-year period) by providing professional development programs through summer science academies in which the teachers will incorporate laboratory experiences into their everyday teaching programs and earn graduate credit. The collegial relationships among the students their high school teachers and the research mentors will be sustained throughout the academic year by seminars novel laboratory exercises in the high schools based on the combined experiences of the participating CREST students and teachers and programs at the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts in downtown Harrisburg. The Whitaker Center programs will be designed to celebrate the achievements of the students and their teachers and to inform the public of advances in science and the critical role of clinical trials. External evaluators will compare outcome measures of the CREST students with those of students not participating in the CREST program. This program represents a continuing collaboration among school districts in south central Pennsylvania the Penn State College of Medicine (the laboratory performance site) Penn State Harrisburg Capital College (the teacher-focused development site) Lincoln University and several community-based organizations including the Whitaker Center concerned about the quality of science education. The CREST program is designed to stimulate the interest and capacity of high school students especially those from underrepresented groups to pursue careers in science. The program provides opportunity for science teachers to improve science teaching by updating content and pedagogy. The public will be informed of advances in biomedical and clinical research including the concern for research ethics and protection of human participants in clinical research.