K-12 Outreach Program Encouraging Student Research - Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences - Purdue University

K-12 Outreach Program Encouraging Student Research

08-06-2018

Writer(s): Logan Judy

EAPS K-12 Outreach is equipping teachers to help their students with a sometimes-overlooked skill – researching like a real-life scientist.

The program, which is being executed in tandem with Chemistry K-12 Outreach, is part of a GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) program to do environmental tests, such as soil and water analysis.  EAPS K-12 Outreach Coordinator Steven Smith said events like this are instrumental in fostering student interest in science.

“We’re approaching it by asking, ‘What does science look like in the classroom?  How can your students do science projects exploring the world around them?’”  Smith said. 

Smith, along with Chemistry K-12 Outreach Coordinator Sarah Nern, had 20 Indiana teachers on campus in July for a weeklong session working through the GLOBE protocols, which are ways of gathering data from your local environment.  The applied these protocols to the local area, including the Celery Bog Nature Area in West Lafayette, Ind.  These teachers will then go back to their schools and teach their students, who will have an opportunity to submit a digital poster to a virtual Indiana symposium.  The program shows such promise for students that more teachers expressed interest in the workshop than Smith and Nern were able to accommodate.

“By doing this, we are working toward authentic science rather than just reading out of a textbook,” Smith said.  “By using the GLOBE protocols to collect data for their research questions, students will be able to share the research that they did, just like a real scientist does. This is similar to how our graduate students go to large academic conferences to share their research.”

After this virtual symposium, students will have the opportunity to receive feedback from real scientists.  EAPS Assistant Professor Dr. Lisa Welp will help coordinate feedback, which will include members of the EAPS chapter of the Women in Science Program (WISP).  After receiving that feedback, students will have the opportunity to submit their research to the GLOBE International Virtual Science Symposium, which will take place in March 2019.

These activities are funded by a grant from the Halliburton Foundation, which empowers EAPS to take on initiatives focused on improving the impact of the sciences in the state of Indiana.  

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