The Science Adventure Lab program was initiated by Seattle Children's Research Institute in 2008 to address the need for improved access of students in Washington state to high-quality, hands-on science education and in recognition of the well-established connection between education and health. This 45 foot, state-of-the-art mobile science laboratory has visited over 12,600 students at 85 different schools since September 2009. The program specifically serves under-resourced rural and urban schools by providing cutting-edge science laboratory experiences to students where resources and personnel to offer this are not available. This proposed project entitled "Engaging families to enhance science learning and interest in STEM careers" will utilize the best practices and proven approaches developed over the past two years by the Science Adventure Lab team together with novel curriculum modules developed specifically for this project, and add critically-important, structured, family-based activities that will encourage and support student learning and interest in STEM careers. Our hypothesis is that completing two curriculum modules onboard the Science Adventure Lab will result in gains in student knowledge, increased interest in science and awareness of careers in the STEM fields, and that structured family involvement will amplify those gains. Additionally, students and families are expected to develop an increased understanding of the importance of research and clinical trials for building a healthy community. Each year of the project, ~ 700 fourth-graders at ten under-resourced urban or rural schools in Washington state will complete two novel, inquiry-based, hands-on curriculum modules onboard the Science Adventure Lab. Families of participating students will be invited to attend two events. At "Science Night" at the school, families will complete an activity on the Science Adventure Lab together with their children and be provided with resources that will help them encourage and support their children's interest in science. At the end of the school year, families will attend "Science Day" at Seattle Children's Research Institute where they will complete a follow-up, hands-on activity that extends the skills and knowledge developed during "Science Night", tour the facility, interact with scientists and learn about the importance of scientific research and clinical trials for building a healthy community. Implementing this project will result in the development of an ongoing, sustainable program of family-based activities that includes Family Science Night kits that can be shipped to schools anywhere in the U.S., and regular events for families at Seattle Children's Research Institute.
This project will deliver innovative hands-on Science education on the Science Adventure Lab, a state-of-the-art mobile science laboratory, to ~700 fourth grade students annually at elementary schools, and add critically-important, structured, family-based activities that will encourage and support student learning and interest in STEM careers. As a result of this project, an ongoing, sustainable program of family-based activities will be established that includes Family Science Night kits that can be shipped to schools, and Family Science Days at Seattle Children's Research Institute.