Would You Like to be a Scientist? Discover Biomedical Sciences! — Phase I/II

Project Website(s)

  • Project Description

    1) To expose children from innercity elementary schools to the biomedical sciences and as a consequence encourage them early on with the excitement of scientific discovery and health careers. 2) To train science undergraduates to become good communicators of their science involving them in bringing science – particularly health-related discoveries – to the public.

  • Abstract

    This NCRR Science Education Partnership Award titled “Would you like to be a scientist? Discover Biomedical Sciences!” has two interrelated goals. On the one hand it seeks to expose children from inner city elementary schools to the biomedical sciences and as a consequence encourage them early on with the excitement of scientific discovery and health careers. On the other hand it seeks to train science undergraduates to become good communicators of their science involving them in bringing science – particularly health-related discoveries – to the public. To achieve these goals we propose the following specific aims: Specific Aim 1: To create a science outreach program run by undergraduates in biomedical sciences directed towards fourth grade students. This outreach program will have two components: A) a “reverse” science fair modeled after the Kids Judge! Neuroscience Fairs that we have used in the past. This activity will be focused in neuroscience concepts and will provide children with learning experiences that will establish the foundation for broad understanding of how the brain works and how brain functioning relates to behavior. B) a mentoring program between the 4th graders and the Biomedical Sciences undergraduates whereby the college students will work with and serve as a resource for the elementary school children for the science portion of their curriculum. Specific Aim 2: To establish a public outreach activity that will educate the general public on biomedical sciences and other health-related topics using films with a scientific content discussed by researcher or clinician chosen among those who can provide not only the best scientific expertise but also a model to imitate. This application also addresses a critical barrier to progress in the field of minority health and health disparities by contributing to increase the number of members of underrepresented groups that enter the biomedical workforce. There are two reasons for this First minority students in urban public schools often do not acquire essential academic skills necessary to pursue science careers. Second as of today minority students do not have access to appropriate role models because underrepresented minorities account for a disproportionately low percentage of full time academic faculty (less than 4%) at US medical schools and are less likely to hold senior academic rank even after adjusting for years as a faculty member or measures of academic productivity. Participation in our program will serve not only to increase access to science content and spur heightened interest in the children but also this will come from students and faculty that ‘talk like them and look like them’ providing role models to whom the inner-city 4th graders can relate to.

  • Dissemination Strategies

    1) These documentary videos will be produced for distribution via DVD and the web. 2) These videos will also be disseminated through educational components of already established professional societies- meeting such as the Society for Neuroscience and the National Association of Biology Teachers or the National Science Teachers Association.

  • Project Evaluation(s)

    The evaluation will be conducted through PERC (Program Evaluation and Research Collaborative) at Cal State LA’s Charter College of Education. Dr. Simeon Slovacek who is a full Professor in the Division of Applied and Advanced Studies in Education will serve as the principal evaluator. The evaluation of the program will consist of the design collection analysis and reporting of process and outcome evaluation data. This will be collected using a variety of methods. The evaluators will collect both process data and some outcome data. They will assess participating students’ science knowledge and mathematic skill levels. The value of the Biomedical Sciences undergraduate mentors in assisting 4th grade students through their science curriculum will be assessed as well through a survey of participating 4th grade teachers and an analysis of changed student test scores in science and math. Also the evaluator plans to attend and observe several community outreach sessions (NIH movies and guest scientist). The evaluator will also examine community and family participants’ experience and perceptions about the program. Most data will be collected through observations of project components and activities project records science and math test scores survey questionnaires and interviews. The evaluation reports will include findings an executive summary and recommendations. The recommendations will include ways the program administration (Principal Investigator and staff) can strengthen the program components (e.g. efforts to enhance the undergraduate mentors ability to mentor students teacher’s science instruction practices and the conduct and results of the Science Fair). Evaluation Tasks – 1) Meet with Drew University staff to discuss and finalize evaluation plans for the project. 2) Plan extended task/timeline for the evaluation work over the life of the grant. 3) Develop instruments and other data collection protocols. 4) Secure school administrators cooperation in using school data. 5) Attend a sampling of key project planning and coordination meetings. 6) Observe a sampling of project activities (mentorship program community outreach series and ‘Kids Judge! Neuroscience Fair’). 7) Administer data collection instruments and surveys. 8) Review and summarize project activities and other efforts for their relative effectiveness to the program. 9) Meet at least twice during the year with project administration to provide feedback in formative data collection results and analysis 10) Attend and observe a sample of Community Outreach and Family Component (and interview parents) 11) Survey Drew University mentors (science college students) 12) Assist with required periodic data reports for NIH. 13) Analyze CST test scores from California Department of Education website for participating and control group schools 14) Provide a formal annual evaluation report to the project administration. 15) Annually review and revised scope and performance of evaluation work with Drew University project staff. 16) Recycle above steps as appropriate.

  • Resources for Sharing

    Video and photographic documentation from the activities documenting the processes by which partners develop and implement particular learning activities that describe basic neuroscience concepts and link this knowledge to clinically relevant health issues.

Project Audience

4th grade students and teachers college students and adult public

Subjects Addressed

Biomedical Sciences in general and Neuroscience in particular