The Evolution of Viral Science Lab
2014 - 2015: Viral Science Lab Begins
This site began as a collaboration between students and teachers at The New School (Fayetteville, AR) and researchers at the University of Arkansas and Missouri University of Science and Technology as broader impacts of a joint grant from the National Science Foundation (CBET-1336853). As part of their classroom science lessons, and engaged with both their teachers and university mentors (faculty and graduate students) students designed their own experiments to teach other students in their own words and with their own perspective through videos that are posted to the internet.
2018 - 2019: Humanizing Science and Revival of Viral Science Lab
A different approach for engaging young people in science began. A weekly, after-school Science Club was established at Haas Hall Academy (HHA, Fayetteville, AR) as a venue to bridge the gap between junior high/high school science and university research. Sharing examples of university research is full of opportunities that can be used to relate to young people and inspire them. One is to show how basic concepts learned in the classroom are relevant for solving important research problems. Another is for each university researcher to tell their unique story about how they got from that early stage, and ended up in science. The focus is specifically on topics relevant to research projects supported by the Women's Giving Circle of the University of Arkansas and the National Science Foundation (CMI-1808286). The VSL website is an effective way to disseminate these activities to a broader audience.
2019 - 2020: Humanizing Science/Viral Science Lab-Part 2
Self-Sustaining Science Club. A more self-sustaining mechanism is being adapted to the Science Club (junior high/high school) program for science engagement developed by students for students.
In the 2018-2019 HHA Science Club, activities and training of students involved extensive oversight by the HHA teacher and U of A mentors.
In 2019-2020, some participants from 2018-2019 now serve as officers for the club and are now successfully leading the development of new experiments. Less input is required from the HHA teacher and U of A mentors.
The hope for 2020-2021 is for these officers to oversee the next Science Club even more independently and train the next generation of student club leaders (ones who participated in 2019-2020) to be ready to lead in 2021-2022.
Bridging the Gap between Junior High/High School Science and University Research. Graduate students from the University of Arkansas in different scientific and engineering disciplines are being scheduled to visit HHA science classes at the 7th and 8th grade levels. The visits are being coordinated to best match each graduate student's research topics with course content. The graduate student will say a few words about their path into science and why they decided to go to graduate school, give their three-minute thesis, and answer any questions from HHA students afterwards.