Title

The Secret of Life: Protein Synthesis, Function, and Expression: Supporting Underrepresented Students Through Summer Science Programs

Location

Harborside Center East and West

Strand #1

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Relevance

This proposal relates to Strand 1 because it reports finding on a summer science program that aims to close achievement gaps and promote “learning for all children and youth especially for high-poverty populations” in the Head: Academic Achievement & Leadership strand.

Brief Program Description

We will give an individual presentation that will show how our summer science program encouraged high school students to participate in college level lab-bench science. We provide an overview of the program, a demonstration of scientific activities, results from student surveys, and a summary of successes and challenges associated with implementation.

Summary

A goal of this program is to encourage students to “do what scientists do.” Part of that “doing” is engaging in scientific practices, such as inquiry. Scientific inquiry involves asking scientific questions, experiencing phenomena by designing and conducting investigations, collecting and analyzing data, constructing explanations based on evidence, and sharing findings with others. The 21st century skills movement is also drawing much attention in education (Senechal, 2010). We incorporated Bybee’s (2006) 21st century skills (adaptability, complex communication and social skills, non-routine problem solving, systems thinking, and self-management) as a necessary component in preparing students for life beyond the classroom. We have developed an intensive and content rich summer science program that engages students in a variety of lab bench activities, scientific literature, scientific discourse, outdoor experiences, and educational/career planning and mentorship. The program connects to students by relating the content to concepts that they see everyday, such gene expression (phenotype) and environmental demonstrations of science. Students learn how scientists use technological tools, like biotechnology, and engage in sophisticated techniques, like DNA extractions and protein purification, to help them answer nature’s questions. Students also learn that science is not limited to an indoor lab; that sometimes the lab is outside. Students test water quality by comparing the macro-organisms present in different natural water sources. The summer program (co-ed day camp) required a 2-week commitment from students. Students were responsible for demonstrating knowledge and skill in biology and biotechnology usage. Student projects were designed to highlight where DNA comes from, how it works, and its progression through gene expression. During this experience, students learned to communicate in scientific ways, work in collaborative groups, report findings, and provide visual representations of their process and findings. In addition, students spent one-day week outside; where they determined and compared the cleanliness of two local ponds using macro-organisms as evidence for pollutants. It was important that students experience different ways to practice science. Through such experiences, they learned that science practice is highly dependent on what is being studied. As a culminating event, students participated in a showcase of learning. Each student gave a research talk or demonstration to an audience consisting of college faculty and staff, family, community members, and their school administrators. Students showed an increase in understanding and interest in biology and biotechnology.

Evidence

Research has shown that when high school students take part in STEM enrichment programs, they are more likely to pursue STEM in college (Zhe, Doverspike, Zhao, Lam, Menzemer, 2010). Zhe et al. (2010) also showed that high school STEM programs enhanced students’ confidence in STEM and motivated them in choosing STEM careers. Based on our collected student pre and post surveys, students expressed increased interest in science as a possible focus in their education. According to initial qualitative analyses of course video documentation, students also showed increased confidence in “talking science” (Lemke, 1990). Student use of vocabulary increased and comfort with expressing ideas and presenting data to the class increased. Students also demonstrated competency and confidence in communicating scientific ideas through oral presentations to other members of the scientific community. The initial analysis of their science notebooks showed that students demonstrated skills in inquiry-based learning: collecting and analyzing data, reporting findings, and creating visual representations that show patterns of their learning. These skills are aligned with the Science and Engineering Practices and Cross Cutting Concepts of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS Lead States, 2013). Program features such as commitment to excellence, accountability, group success, cognitively demanding hands-on research, and mentoring created a learning environment that supported and encouraged the pursuit of science in the future (Maton, Sto Domingo, Stolle-McAllister, Zimmerman, & Hrabowski, 2009).

Format

Poster Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Nonye M. Alozie, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Education at Albion College. Her research interests include secondary science education, science curriculum development, informal/Out-of-School Time (OST) learning that encourages youth of underrepresented and underprivileged backgrounds to pursue science careers, and Biotechnology and lab-bench science professional development for teachers, and identity development in the science community. She has worked with various fields and organizations (i.e. biology, chemistry, environmental science, Americorps) to design enrichment programs that promote science learning for secondary students. In addition, she has worked with closely with the Michigan Department of Education in teacher education program evaluation using national InTASC Standards and Danielson framework.

Claire E. Mitchell, Ph.D., is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Education at Albion College. Her scholarly interests include secondary education curriculum and policy, with a particular focus on interdisciplinary Out-of-School-Time (OST) and enrichment programs that serve low-income and minority students. She has worked with closely with state policymakers, education agencies, and stakeholders in Michigan, Virginia, and Texas to evaluate the fidelity of implementation of different programs and policies aimed at bolstering secondary students’ career and college readiness.

Keyword Descriptors

STEM, summer science programs, high school, secondary science, inquiry-based learning, biotechnology

Presentation Year

2015

Start Date

3-3-2015 4:00 PM

End Date

3-3-2015 5:30 PM

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Mar 3rd, 4:00 PM Mar 3rd, 5:30 PM

The Secret of Life: Protein Synthesis, Function, and Expression: Supporting Underrepresented Students Through Summer Science Programs

Harborside Center East and West

We will give an individual presentation that will show how our summer science program encouraged high school students to participate in college level lab-bench science. We provide an overview of the program, a demonstration of scientific activities, results from student surveys, and a summary of successes and challenges associated with implementation.