180 Student Researchers Reaching out: Building Skills to Connect Science and Communities

Tuesday, 8 January 2013
Exhibit Hall 3 (Austin Convention Center)
Rebecca Haacker-Santos, UCAR, Boulder, CO; and L. Gardiner, D. Hosansky, T. Eastburn, E. Carpenter, M. Kennedy, and R. Pandya

Research has shown that many students from under-represented communities choose not to pursue graduate school in STEM in part because it offers fewer opportunities to serve their community than other fields. As one way to address this, research interns (called protégés) in the SOARS Program learn about and participate in science outreach. SOARS is an undergraduate-to-graduate bridge program designed to broaden participation in the atmospheric and related sciences, hosted at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, CO. In 2012, students were offered several outreach opportunities to choose from: (1) facilitating hands-on science activities for school-age children visiting NCAR's Mesa Lab; (2) receiving media training and preparing for a possible interview with the local press about their work; or (3) writing about their research or other science related topics for in-house blogs. All of the outreach activities were designed to allow protégés to exercise and grow abilities to communicate science to a community outside of scientific research, whether to children, the media, or the general public. In this presentation, we will provide an overview of these three outreach opportunities as well as the results of formal and informal assessment of student experiences with outreach, the perspectives of mentors about protégé involvement in outreach, and considerations for engaging science students with outreach activities.
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