Effective outreach and education initiatives come in many different flavors. The following are a few successful K-12 outreach initiatives to serve as illustrative examples. The EPD encourages all scientists to implement some form of outreach. Whether you put together programs similar to those below or something on a smaller or larger scale, every K-12 student you reach is a potential future scientist or more science-literate member of society.
This program is conducted by the Young Scientist Program at Washington University in St. Louis. Graduate and medical student volunteers form teams based on individual science subjects that bring teaching modules including hands-on demonstrations into the St. Louis Public High Schools. These modules typically run for all or part of 1 class period and they may repeat the modules for several class periods throughout a day or within a week at a particular school. The class visits are scheduled in advance by the YSP coordinator and are often chosen by the high school teachers to supplement current lessons in each subject. YSP offers teaching teams in the following subject areas: Anatomy, Chemistry, Genetics, Microbiology, Neuroscience, and Physics. Some of their teaching modules are available on their website:
Summer Research Internships
This type of program is often the most effective at attracting K-12 students into science majors in college and ultimately science careers. Depending on the program and institution, one or more high school students (often juniors who are within 1 year of making college decisions) are selected to spend 8-10 weeks working in a research lab or labs. Each high school student is typically paired with a faculty member, graduate student, or post-doctoral researcher for mentoring and directing the execution of a research project. These partnerships usually work best when the research is some aspect of a project that already existed in the lab such that each high school student will get one-on-one hands-on training with current research methods and will be contributing to a real research question. The high school student is usually paid a reasonable stipend such that he or she can focus on the research and spend 40 hour weeks in the lab. This type of activity certainly helps fulfill the “broader impacts” of NSF funding. There is always the possibility of getting internal funding from your institution for such programs. In addition there are other funding sources available to help support these types of programs. Two funding sources are listed below along with some examples of successful summer research internship programs:
Funding for Summer Research Internships:
Examples of Successful Outreach Programs: