Middle school (MS), when students enter adolescence, is perhaps the most critical educational point at which to engage them in science education and attune their dreams to careers in science;however, several obstacles make this transition difficult. The extant literature and our long-term interactive partnerships with teacher identify three important barriers that can limit the effectiveness of MS science education. 1) Teachers often lack sufficient content knowledge in their area of science to effectively teach their students. This is compounded as science is rapidly evolving, requiring teachers to engage in significant professional development to keep pace with knowledge changes. 2) MS teachers typically have little experience in biomedical professions, and thus, they and their students lack a full understanding of how science education translates into meaningful careers. 3) While inquiry-based education is clearly the most effective educational method to create and sustain excitement in students about science, many teachers, especially those in underserved schools, utilize traditional didactic teaching methods they feel maintain classroom order. If teachers are to excite students about science, they need practical lessons, assistance and practice in classroom management. SEEC will address all three issues through teacher education and the creation of modules that will form an effective bridge to allow students and parents to realize the very exciting biomedical careers to which science education can lead. Twelve MS science teachers each year will be enrolled in a summer science careers Boot Camp. Each day the camp will focus on an area of State Science Standards in which the area students are historically deficit. Each session starts content deepening information, delivered by a scientist working in that biomedical-related field. Teachers will then conduct an inquiry-based, participatory experiment that uses the tools of that career to answer a scientific question. Teachers will also receive training in classroom management and individual learning styles and will create inquiry-based experiences that will address the science deficiency and excite students about science career opportunities. All of the teachers will then continue to learn through teaching and research internships (academia and/or biomedical businesses) and in the classroom using modules they develop. The program will also include Science Fair Overnighters to prepare students to be competitive in science and a Biomedical Jobs Fair for the students and parents to learn about science careers. The Intellectual Merit of this project wil be to enhance teacher development by providing up-to-date knowledge of science content, exposure to biomedical scientists and training in participatory science experiments and classroom management thus enabling them to excite MS students about biomedical science education and position them for competitive biomedical careers.. The broader impacts will include the translation and testing of a science education model and the creation of experience that integrate NIH biomedical science research into MS education.
SEEC will greatly advance the science education for urban minority middle school students through a rigorous science Boot Camp and internships for middle school teachers that will help them to master the science content that their students are lacking and provide them an insight into the careers to which the science education will lead their students. It will include lessons in classroom management for the teachers and the creation of inquiry-based science experiences for the students. The Intellectual Merit of this project will be to enhance teacher development by providing up-to-date knowledge of science content, exposure to biomedical scientists and training in participatory science experiments and classroom management, thus enabling them to excite middle school students about biomedical science education and position them for competitive biomedical careers, and the broader impacts will include the translation and testing of a science education model and the creation of experience that integrate NIH biomedical science research into middle school education.