Mobile Lab Experiences and TRIPs (Teacher-Research Institute Partnerships) to Inspire Middle School Students

  • Abstract

    The signature program of Seattle Children’s Science Education Department is the Science Adventure Lab, a 45-ft mobile laboratory that is fully equipped with research-grade equipment. The mobile lab has been visiting under-resourced rural and urban elementary and middle schools across Washington state since 2009, providing engaging hands-on laboratory experiences, NGSS-aligned curricula and the opportunity to interact with research scientists. To date, more than 56,000 students at 170 different schools throughout the state have participated in the program. The proposed project will focus on students in grade eight at under-resourced urban and rural middle schools with high populations of financially-disadvantaged and minority students. We will bring together teacher leaders, our scientists, engineers and NGSS experts to design two novel curriculum modules that incorporate the three dimensions of the NGSS and connect to authentic research. The four-lesson modules will be taught in the classroom by teachers, and co-taught by scientists and teachers on the Science Adventure Lab in a unique partnership. The project will also include a one-day conference at SCRI in the heart of downtown Seattle where students will attend presentations on new techniques and technologies that are advancing the frontiers of science and healthcare, and participate in career exploration panels with STEM and healthcare professionals that will broaden their perspective on career options. The content and activities addressed during the science conference at SCRI will complement and expand on the learning objectives for the curriculum modules, and allow the students connect what they learned to real-world research applications. We will utilize a well-matched comparison group study design, and all aspects of the project will be subject to rigorous evaluation. We will assess the short-term impact of students completing the lessons and attending the conference in grade eight, and the medium-term impact on career interests, coursework selection and perceived self-efficacy in grades nine and ten. The project will leverage SCRI’s deep connections to the national and international mobile lab community as an innovative strategy to broadly disseminate the NGSS-designed curriculum modules, which are optimized for use on mobile labs. The curriculum modules, assessments and resources will be disseminated to mobile lab programs at the annual mobile lab coalition conference, which is supported in part by a SEPA R13 conference grant awarded to the PI on this project. We will provide training on implementing and adapting the curriculum at the conference and create a forum for sharing best practices among programs who use the curriculum. We will also use the conference as a forum for sharing evaluation data across programs as it becomes available.

    PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE:
    The proposed project will create two NGSS-designed curriculum modules and a one-day conference for students in grade eight and linked professional development for their teachers. The four-lesson modules will be taught in the classroom by teachers, and co-taught by scientists and teachers onboard the Science Adventure Lab mobile lab in a unique partnership. The project will leverage the PI’s deep connections to the national and international mobile lab community as an innovative strategy to broadly disseminate the NGSS-designed curriculum modules, which will be are optimized for use on mobile labs.