Learning Science Through Research

  • Abstract

    Science is best learned by doing what scientists do, especially in performing authentic scientific investigations where the unknowns are many, the design to experimentally explore the unknowns is complex, the instruments and expertise to execute the experiment(s) are advanced, and a highly skilled and informed mentor is critical. The New Hampshire Academy of Science (NHAS) believes that the pursuit of scientific investigations that contribute to scientific understanding and inspire the pursuit of STEM careers should be available to all students. In our northern area of NH and VT, opportunities for pre-college students to perform meaningful and inspiring scientific research with teachers as effective science mentors are extremely limited or non-existent. The NHAS intends to help resolve these limited opportunities by using its advanced STEM Lab and its connections with mentors in our scientific community to greatly expand its support of middle and high school students and their teachers in experiencing discovery-based science. The NHAS has established a well- equipped primary satellite STEM laboratory at the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium (FMP) that has a close relationship with the economically depressed rural north of VT in order to advance the museum’s science programs and offer students experiences in inquiry-based research. The NHAS will also establish a primary site at Colby Sawyer College (CSC) that will make the design and execution of research-based activities part of the learning experience of future biology/science teachers at CSC with IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) support. CSC will also function as a geographically strategic location for outreach to secondary schools in the rural center of NH. A small number of more modest secondary satellite laboratories will be established in regional schools for students to perform research that matches their abilities and interests. Teachers will be provided professional development in the day-to-day practices of professional scientists to transform those teachers into inspirational mentors for their students. This will influence these teachers and their peers to performing inquiry-based science investigations in their respective schools. A web-based system will provide peer-to-peer student, teacher, and mentor platforms to ensure that students and teachers have the constant intellectual and personal support that they need for career advancement. There will be multiple opportunities for students and teachers to present their research at regional and national science events including the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Parents will be encouraged to attend these events as well as more local conferences to help them appreciate the opportunities in STEM careers for their children. This long-term mentoring support for students and teachers on both personal and intellectual levels serves a critical need for attracting and retaining underserved students into science and health careers. With this grant, the STEM Labs of the NHAS, FMP, and resources at CSC will create a vibrant scientific community in the region, where students, teachers, and parents have a shared and enduring role.

Associated SEPA Project(s)