Our previous work with Atlanta Public School Science
& Mathematics Fair participants has demonstrated a wealth of
creativity and imagination in these students, but also a lack of
skills and background necessary to bring their ideas to life. Basic
tenets of the scientific method such as hypotheses, controls, and
sample size are often misunderstood, and students seem to miss "The
Big Picture" in their projects. In order to address these concerns
and to increase the scientific literacy of students graduating from
Atlanta high schools, we will place trained undergraduate mentors
in select Atlanta Public Schools middle school science classes.
Undergraduate mentors will assist middle school students in the
development of student-driven inquiry-based science projects, ensuring
that sound scientific methods are employed.
Students are eligible to participate in the Atlanta
Public School Science & Mathematics Fair annually from 7th –
12th grade. The rationale for targeting middle school students is
to have sustainable impact, improving science fair performance and
meeting science literacy benchmarks as students progress through
middle and high school.
Project SLIM adds value for all participants. With
exposure to the enthusiasm and science-related career goals of their
undergraduate mentors, middle school students may be inspired to
change their attitudes toward science and scientific careers. Undergraduate
students pursuing science careers will have the opportunity to practice
communication and dissemination strategies for their research. Furthermore,
the Project will encourage undergraduate science majors to explore
careers in K-12 education.
Undergraduate Mentors –
Undergraduates will be selected from participants in the SURE
(Summer Undergraduate Research at Emory) and HUES
(Hughes Undergraduates Excelling in Science) programs who will be
available in the Atlanta area during the subsequent fall semester.
Approximately 10 undergraduate mentors will be matched with middle
school classes in pairs. Interested students should apply
Middle School Science Fair Participants
– We will select 5 teachers from Atlanta Public Schools middle
schools to participate in the Project. Teachers will be selected
by Lela Blackburn, Science Coordinator for Atlanta Public Schools
and Adrian Epps, Director of the Atlanta Systemic Initiative. Teachers
who have participated in Atlanta Public School’s middle school
science endorsement programs will be given preference for SLIM,
as incentive for their participation in those programs.
- Approximately 10 undergraduate mentors will be
selected from applicants from the SURE and HUES programs, by mid
– late August.
- Middle school teachers and classrooms will be identified
by selection committee.
- Mentors will attend the following training sessions:
- The SURE "How To Make A Poster"
July 16, 2003.
Session Leaders: Cathy Quinones, PhD, Center for Science Education;
and graduate students.
- Introduction to Project SLIM.
Timeline, expectations, payment, logistics.
September 3, 2003. 5-6pm.
Session Leaders: Jordan Rose and PJ Gallagher, Center for Science
- Project SLIM Workshop. Introduction
to the APS Science Fair (student requirements and expectations,
examples of projects, judging criteria, timelines, etc.), how
to present the scientific method to middle school students (curriculum,
learning objectives, creative ideas), procedures for school
visits, matching mentors to classrooms.
September 6, 2003. 10am-1pm.
Session Leaders: Lela Blackburn, Science Coordinator, Atlanta
Public Schools; Adrian Epps, Atlanta Systemic Initiative; Model
Teacher Leaders; middle school teachers.
- Undergraduates will spend ~2 hours every other
week working with their middle school classes during class time
and after school sessions. They will assist in defining each student
project's main question of inquiry, and then guide the students
into designing controlled experiments to address these questions.
- Mentors will share their own research experiences
and model the original scientific posters they created for the
- Monthly mentor reflection sessions will assess
the effectiveness of the mentors' intervention, identify and overcome
obstacles through collaborative problem solving, and make programmatic
changes as necessary.
- Mentors will assist their students in consolidating
their data for interpretation.
- Mentors will help students prepare their projects
in publication form. Undergrads can use their posters from the
previous summer as presentation examples.
- Middle school students may participate in a practice
poster session at Emory University, involving faculty and undergraduate
- Middle school students compete in school and APS
science fairs (January and February).
- If possible, middle school student projects will
be published on the ScienceNET website.