Humanizing Science Activities,
Broader Impacts tied to Research Projects Supported by The Women's Giving Circle and NSF CMI-1808286
Mentors at the University of Arkansas will collaborate with students and their teachers at a public school Haas Hall Academy, HHA (Fayetteville, AR) to initiate and foster a self-sustaining, interactive science program and made available widely through internet dissemination (to reach a broader audience and for public comment) with a focus on concepts directly relevant to the research projects of the U of A participants. The self-sustaining program can take one or more forms, including a summer workshop, activities that can be taken on the road to other schools, or activities for student visitors from other schools. A Science Club can serve as the mechanism to develop those science activities in collaboration with teachers at HHA and the researchers at the University of Arkansas (U of A). The interdisciplinary nature of the proposed research ties to chemistry, physics, biology, and engineering. The development of the workshop proposes to bridge the gaps in communication, knowledge, access to university resources, experience, and comfort level that can stand between university research and high school science. We are building upon an existing foundation of previously successful outreach programs. Also, the plan addresses goals of NSF Broader Impacts: increased scientific literacy and public engagement with science and technology, increased partnerships between the university and K-12 schools, improved STEM education and educator development, enhanced infrastructure for education, and in the long term, preparation of young people for a more globally competitive STEM workforce.
The personalization/humanization of science that bridges the gap between University research and junior high/high school education is accomplished in three ways:
1-One-on-one engagement of HHA students with U of A mentors at every Science Club activity
2-At the beginning of some Science Club events, one U of A mentor tells a personal story of their origin, inspirations that led them toward scientific research, and their unique path to graduate school. This was followed by a brief discussion of their research in layman’s terms while drawing connections to basic principles familiar to the students
3-A field trip to the U of A to experience advanced facilities and meet other researchers
To develop self-sustaining aspects of the Science Club, student participants in the first year receive extensive oversight by the HHA teacher and U of A mentors. Some serve as officers for the following year. They can then lead development of new experiments for that second year with less input from HHA teacher and U of A mentors. These officers can then oversee the third year of Science Club more independently and train future student leaders for the following year.