NIGMS and Scholastic, Inc., have collaborated to bring you Pathways, a collection of free resources that teaches students about basic science, its importance to human health, and research careers that students can pursue.Continue reading “Pathways: New Scholastic Resources on Basic Science and Career Paths”
NIGMS cares deeply about our future generations of scientists. That’s why we continue to fund educational tools that make science exciting for students with the hope of steering them toward career paths in science. These materials are available to educators for free through the Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) program.
SEPA funds innovative Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM ) and Informal Science Education (ISE ) projects for pre-kindergarten through grade 12. By encouraging interactive partnerships between biomedical and clinical researchers and educators, schools, and other interested organizations, SEPA provides opportunities to:
- Motivate students from underserved communities to consider careers in basic or clinical research
- Improve community health literacy
Here are just a few SEPA-funded resources that educators can use to peak their students’ interest in science:
Charles Darwin Synthetic Interview (middle school through grade 9, and general public)
In this free interactive experience for iOS and Android devices, students learn about Charles Darwin, the naturalist, geologist, and leading contributor to the fundamental principles of evolution. Students select from a list of questions to ask a virtual Darwin and receive insight into topics that include:
- His childhood and personal quirks
- His adventures
- Principles of evolution
- Public response to his discovery
Modern-day biologists and other experts provide commentary and answer questions beyond Darwin’s 19th century knowledge. A pay version of the app includes many more questions and answers. Lesson plans and other lessons on evolution are also included with the apps, which were developed by The Partnership in Education at Duquesne University, along with several other SEPA-funded resources.
Six NIGMS grantees are among this year’s winners of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM). The award was established by the White House in 1995. This year, it went to 27 individuals and 14 organizations.
PAESMEM recipients were honored during a 3-day event in Washington, D.C. The event featured a gala presentation ceremony and a White House tour. In addition, each winner received a $10,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, which manages PAESMEM on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
The event also included the first-ever White House State-Federal STEM Education Summit. During the summit, awardees joined leaders in education and workforce development from across the nation, including U.S. territories and several Native American tribes, to discuss trends and future priorities in STEM education. The discussions will inform the development of the next Federal STEM Education 5-Year Strategic Plan, which must be updated every 5 years according to the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010.
- Ann L. Chester, Ph.D., West Virginia University
- John K. Haynes, Ph.D., Morehouse College
- John A. Pollock, Ph.D., Duquesne University
- Elba Elisa Serrano, Ph.D., New Mexico State University
- Virginia Shepherd, Ph.D., Vanderbilt University
- Maria da Graça H. Vicente, Ph.D., Louisiana State University
Educators often struggle to teach teens about sexual and reproductive health. Hexacago Health Academy (HHA) , an education program from the University of Chicago, leverages the fun activity of gameplay to impart these lessons to young people from Chicago’s South Side community. Funded by the Student Education Partnership Award (SEPA), part of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), in 2015, HHA assists teachers in their goal of helping teen students gain awareness and control over their health and also learn about careers in STEM and health fields.
Genesis of HHA
HHA was cofounded by Melissa Gilliam , a University of Chicago professor of Obstetrics/Gynecology and Pediatrics and founder of the Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry & Innovation in Sexual and Reproductive Health (Ci3) . During a 2013 summer program with high school students, Gilliam and Patrick Jagoda , associate professor of English and Cinema & Media Studies, and cofounder of Ci3’s Game Changer Chicago Design Lab , introduced the students to their STEM-based alternate reality game called The Source , in which a young woman crowdsources player help to solve a mystery that her father has created for her.
From their experience with The Source, Gilliam and Jagoda quickly learned that students not only wanted to play games but to design them too. What followed was the Game Changer Lab’s creation of the Hexacago game board, as well as the launch of HHA, a SEPA-funded project that the lab oversees.
Hexacago Game Board
At the core of HHA is the Hexacago game board , which displays the city of Chicago, along with Lake Michigan, a train line running through the city, and neighborhoods gridded into a hexagonal pattern.
HHA students not only play games designed from the Hexacago board template, but also design their own games from it that are intended to inspire behavior change in health-related situations and improve academic performance.
In this way, HHA is much more than just game design and play. “Students have no idea that what they’re doing is learning. In their minds, they’re really focused on designing games,” says Gilliam. “That’s the idea behind Hexacago Health Academy: helping people acquire deep knowledge of science and health issues by putting on the hat of a game designer.” Moreover, through the process of gameplay and design, students practice all the rich skills that result from teamwork, including collaborative learning, leadership, and communication.
MARC U-STAR Scholars Jasmine Brown and Naomi Mburu were among 32 Americans to recently receive the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University in England. Rhodes Scholars are chosen for their academic and research achievements, as well as their commitment to others and leadership potential.
As current MARC U-STAR Scholars, Brown and Mburu are part of an NIGMS research training program for undergraduate junior and senior honor students. MARC is designed to increase the number of people from groups underrepresented in biomedical sciences by preparing students for high-caliber, doctorate-level training.
Here’s more about these two distinguished women:
Jasmine Brown, 21
Brown, of Hillsborough, New Jersey, is a senior at Washington University in St. Louis and works as a research assistant at the Washington University School of Medicine. There, she studies genes that are protective against mental defects that result from West Nile-induced brain inflammation. After she receives her bachelor’s degree in biology, she plans to earn a doctorate degree in neuroscience as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University.
In addition to her current training as a MARC Scholar, Brown has spent her summers as an undergraduate research assistant, engaging in the study of these other notable subjects:
- Lung cancer, at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard (2017)
- Specific drugs’ cough-suppressing effects, at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (2015)
- Long-term neurological effects of cocaine and other stimulants on the teen brain, at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine (2014)
“What I love about science is that it gives me tools to generate answers and to improve human health. It’s a fun process for me, but also a satisfying one because I can make an impact,” Brown said in a statement.
Equally important to her studies, Brown is a champion for other underrepresented students in the sciences. After her own experience as the target of prejudice, Brown started the Minority Association of Rising Scientists (MARS) to support underrepresented students participating in research and inform faculty members about implicit bias. With the help of the National Science Foundation, Brown is working to expand MARS nationwide.
Brown has given back to the community in other ways. She was a member of The Synapse Project , which prepares high school students for a neuroscience competition called Brain Bee . She was also a 2014-2015 candidate for Mx. WashU , an organization that raises money for a children’s program called City Faces .
Naomi Mburu, 21
Naomi Mburu, of Ellicott City, Maryland, is the daughter of Kenyan immigrants and the first student in the history of the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) to receive the Rhodes Scholarship. The senior in chemical engineering plans to complete a doctorate in engineering science and to research heat transfer applications for nuclear fusion reactors.
“I believe the Rhodes Scholarship will allow me to foster a stronger community amongst my fellow scholars because we will all be attending the same institution,” Mburu said in a statement.
Mburu is currently working with Gymama Slaughter , UMBC associate professor of computer science and electrical engineering, to develop a machine that ensures human organs remain healthy as they await transplant.
During her recent summer internship with Intel, Mburu developed an interactive model to estimate the cost of coatings applied to equipment. Her work helped improve pricing negotiations and established additional cost estimates for other chemical processes.
Her other areas of research have included:
- Assessing phosphate’s effects on the ribosomal protein L4 as a student at Mount Hebron High School
- Measuring the impurities found in the Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator, at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, Geneva, Switzerland
Mburu’s aspirations involve not just science but education advocacy. Her passion for STEM education and increasing diversity in STEM fields led to her current involvement as a MARC trainee, where she’s learned to communicate her desire to make a global impact through her science research and her efforts to remove barriers to education equality.
In her free time, Mburu has helped K-12 students with their homework during her time at UMBC. She continues to mentor youth and helps high school girls on STEM-related research projects.