The objective of our program is to foster and facilitate authentic research experiences in middle and high school science courses. We do so by providing students with a complete experience in scientific experimentation and communication. The centerpiece is a set of experiment modules in which students investigate the effects of toxic chemicals on living organisms through the use of model organisms such as the earthworm, fathead minnow, and the zebrafish, and chemical contaminants commonly found in the environment. In parallel, we partner with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee science teacher certification program to prepare pre-service teachers to offer real research experiences in their future classrooms.
With the COVID-19 virus restricting or eliminating in-person learning, the program’s challenges were (i) to create new ways to conduct experiments virtually that retain elements of the authentic research experience and (ii) to move all of the accompanying facets of the program to online formats. This paper will describe the new online materials and activities that were introduced this past year as well as the challenges they presented and opportunities for the future that they offer.