P3.97 Jan. 6 A Science Mentoring Model for Partnerships Between Graduate Research Communities and Public School Classrooms MOREHOUSE, Nathan I.*; DAVIS, Jonathan R.; Arizona State University; Arizona State University email@example.com
A number of signs indicate a waning in student interest in secondary and post-secondary science education. This trend has spurned a call for changes, both pedagogical and structural, that might re-invigorate science curricula and re-capture the interest of students. In particular, institutions such as the National Research Council have strongly encouraged a shift from rote-learning to inquiry-based models of teaching science. Concurrently, scientific funding bodies, including the National Science Foundation, have begun requiring researchers to demonstrate how they integrate research and education, encourage diversity in science, enhance scientific and technical understanding, and benefit society. Here, we describe an ongoing collaboration connecting graduate students from the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University to students from two middle school classrooms at Phoenix Preparatory Academy in downtown Phoenix in the context of science-project-based mentoring. We discuss three primary benefits of this partnership: 1) strengthening of inquiry-based practices in science curricula, 2) increased accessibility to science education outreach opportunities for graduate students, and 3) an opportunity for underrepresented minority and economically disadvantaged middle-school students to interact regularly with scientist role-models. We assert that partnerships of this nature can elicit positive change in science education at all educational levels, and we offer suggestions for the formation and maintenance of such collaborations elsewhere.