(768e) Biomaterials Reaching High Schools Through Students and Educators | AIChE

(768e) Biomaterials Reaching High Schools Through Students and Educators


Guelcher, S. A. - Presenter, Vanderbilt University

The effort towards promoting dialogue between the scientific and non-scientific communities has significantly increased in the last decade. A continuous dialogue provides benefits to both groups: the non-scientific community is more informed for decision making-purposes, and scientists gain different perspectives about their research topics. High school, for example, can greatly benefit from interactions with the scientific community. Here, students are preparing to decide on a professional path, and teachers are looking for ways of presenting the different options. Our lab has been working for 2 years with high school students and teachers addressing these points. High school students, who are part of the School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt University (SSMV), have been attending our lab and completing research activities with biomaterials from the spring of their junior year through the fall of their senior year. Their time in the lab includes an introductory period focused on defining their research topic, followed by a summer internship, and a final semester of concluding work for their project. This program aims to provide students with a research-centered learning experience in which they develop their oral and writing skills as well as their research abilities. As a result, students have presented their work in poster sessions on campus, published their work in the Young Scientist journal, and have expressed high motivation to pursue a career related to the topics they have been working on. The work with high school teachers has mainly been conducted in collaboration with the Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) program at Vanderbilt. The teachers involved are assigned to labs and participate in research projects during the summer. At the end, the teachers develop a learning module for their classes in which they incorporate their research experience into the classroom. Outcomes from this collaboration include learning modules for high school chemistry, and biology classes related to mechanical properties, bone, and the profession of Chemical Engineering in the biomaterials field. Finally, working with high school students and teachers has provided our lab with new ways of viewing the biomaterials research we conduct, as well as teaching opportunities for graduate students interested in pursuing academic careers.