Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education
A novel program called Science Alive! was developed by undergraduate faculty members, K–12 school teachers, and undergraduate students to enrich science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) literacy at community schools located near the university. The ultimate goal of the program is to bolster the scientific knowledge and appreciation of local area students and community members and serve as a model for similar programs. Through the program, we observed that elementary school students made gains toward learning their grade-level science curricula after a hands-on learning experience and had fun doing these hands-on activities. Through the program, undergraduate students, working with graduate students and alumni, build scientific learning modules using explanatory handouts and creative activities as classroom exercises. This helps better integrate scientific education through a collaborative, hands-on learning program. Results showed that elementary school students made the highest learning gains in their performance on higher-level questions related to both forces and matter as a result of the hands-on learning modules. Additionally, college students enjoyed the hands-on activities, would consider volunteering their time at such future events, and saw the service learning program as a benefit to their professional development through community building and discipline-specific service. The science modules were developed according to grade-level curricular standards and can be used year after year to teach or explain a scientific topic to elementary school students via a hands-on learning approach.
Raja, Aarti; Emily F. Schmitt Lavin; Tamara Gali; and Kaitlin Donovan. 2016. "Science Alive!: Connecting with Elementary Students through Science Exploration." Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education 17, (2): 275-281. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v17i2.1074.