Wednesday, August 6, 2008

PS 45-111: Science outreach for students: Connecting Outreach and ecology

Charissa Jones, Erika Anne Miller, Margaret Lowman, Jennifer Dyer, Zachary I. Evers, and Evan Miller. New College of Florida

Background/Question/Methods SOS (science outreach for students) is a regional outreach and mentoring program sponsored by the National Science Foundation and New College of Florida that is designed to link undergraduate college students with K-12 students. This award-winning outreach program aims to enhance K-12 education and transform the public's awareness and understanding of environmental science and ecology by connecting communities and schools to the enthusiasm for and knowledge of science abundantly available in their local universities. The SOS program has aided in the enhancement of not only K-12 students by developing creative methods for hands-on and place-based learning but teachers as well through teacher workshops and to changing their perceptions of science and ecology.

Results/Conclusions The SOS program has impacted over 5,000 people with it's science education programs. SOS not only impacts the community, however, it also changes the outlook of many of its participating science students and introduces them to communicating science knowledge to the public. This has led to solid commitment to incorporating outreach and education to the surrounding community. In keeping with the theme of this conference, this model is presented as an opportunity for other college campuses to utilize our methodology and replicate this program elsewhere. We are creating educational units to disseminate to other college campuses and also through the publication of middle school hands-on science curricula notebooks using activities successfully piloted at local schools. It is our hope that this science education model of youth teaching youth can be replicated on college campuses throughout the country. Keywords: outreach, science education, hands-on,