November 9, 2018

The in’s and out’s of science outreach: assessment of an engaging new program

By Miguel Valdez Soto

Abstract

Many professors are interested in providing science outreach to local K–12 students, but may not have the time or resources needed to create an engaging presentation. The American Physiological Society supports outreach initiatives through programs such as the Physiology Understanding (PhUn) Week. Building on these activities, it was desired to create and assess an immersive and engaging Outreach Program in a disadvantaged K–12 student population. Three distinct modules were created on cardiovascular physiology, respiratory physiology, and oral health. All resources for these modules underwent peer review and publication, allowing other professors to easily execute their own outreach programming. The outreach modules were presented to 288 students in 3rd, 5th, 6th, and 7th grade classes. Implementation of the modules resulted in significant increases in student content knowledge, ranging from 32 to 57% improvement (P < 0.001, dependent t-test), with an average increase of 46%. K–12 science teachers reported that the program was at an appropriate educational level, increased students’ enthusiasm for science, and increased students’ exposure to science careers.

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