SCienceLab was established in 2003 to provide a day-long, inquiry-based biomedical science experience for Columbia area middle and high school students. Science teachers bring one to four of their classes to the University of South Carolina to participate in one of four laboratory experiences taught by a science faculty member and his/her laboratory staff. The students participate in state-of-the-art experiments in the biomedical sciences and learn how the techniques that they are learning are also used in the professor's biomedical research program. In addition, a pizza lunch provides an opportunity for the students to interact with the faculty member and research staff in an informal setting. Thus, the students experience hands-on science in the context of an ongoing research program. In the last two years, request for SCienceLab participation have come from all over the state, and more than half of the requests for SCienceLab visits have been denied due to space and personnel limitations. To accommodate the increased demand for SCienceLab participation, additional SCienceLab sites will be established at other universities in South Carolina including Furman University and Claflin University. In addition, teacher training programs and experimental kits that can be borrowed from any of the SCienceLab sites will be developed so that teachers can perform SCienceLab activities in their classroom laboratories. The additional sites will more than double the capacity of SCienceLab to provide students with a SCienceLab experience that will show them the nature of biomedical research and expose them to biomedical science as a career option. The teacher training and experimental kit lending program will extend SCienceLab activities into the teachers'classrooms and provide unlimited potential to enhance middle and high school biology and chemistry courses throughout South Carolina.
(provided by applicant): The US is experiencing a shortage of students choosing a career in biomedical research, and minority students are less likely to pursue a career in research than their peers. Often students are not even aware that a career in research is an option. To address this problem, SCienceLab provides an opportunity for students to spend a day experiencing research and interacting with students who are working in a biomedical research laboratory.
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