Science Montana: Engaging 4-H Teens with Bioscience Research Many Montana high school students, particularly those in rural and often isolated areas, have limited, if any, exposure to scientists and thus often lack the awareness and the role models needed to consider bioscience study and careers. The proposed project--Science Montana: Engaging 4-H Teens with Bioscience Research--will engage rural teens, address future scientific workforce needs, and leverage the extensive expertise of the state's scientists. It is an innovative partnership of three Montana State University-Bozeman (MSU) entities: the Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience, Extended University, and Montana 4-H within the Extension Service. In addition, the project collaborates with MSU's Howard Hughes Medical Institute Undergraduate Biology Program and the NCRR-funded INBRE program. The project builds on the resources and infrastructure of the Montana 4-H program with 4-H clubs located throughout the state including Montana's seven Native American reservations. Drawing upon the research interests of MSU science faculty, the project will introduce rural teen participants to basic, applied, and translational research themes using neuroscience (basic), infectious disease (applied), and metabolomics (translational) as instructional examples. The proposed project focuses on an intensive on-campus experience followed by year-long inquiry-based activities and interaction with scientists and student mentors. It will utilize research projects, monthly videoconference lab meetings, online interactive media, and online communications to engage the 4-H participants. The project aims are: 1) engage rural Montana teens in basic, applied, and translational research in biosciences through a year-long inquiry-based learning environment;2) Increase the interest of rural Montana teens in pursuing basic and clinical bioscience research and other careers related to health sciences, particularly among populations underrepresented in bioscience professions;and 3) create a web-based repository of project content and interactive multimedia assets that will enable 4-H leaders and informal education professionals to incorporate bioscience content, activities, and resources at their local level. Participants will have the opportunity to work with INBRE faculty located at Tribal Colleges across the state and will make public presentations at local community events, state 4-H Congress, and other regional and national meetings.
The proposed project engages rural and underserved Montana teens with MSU research in neuroscience, infectious disease, and metabolomics, all of which have direct relevance to public health. The project participants will experience the scientific process from basic to applied to translational research, learning that laboratory discoveries can ultimately improve health and save lives. By inspiring participants with stimulating bioscience content and activities, the projects aims to encourage more young Montanans to consider careers in science disciplines that support the NIH mission of improving public health.