To compete in today’s global, high-tech economy, we are becoming more dependent on workers and leaders prepared in STEM fields. Engaging high school students in STEM disciplines and biomedical research is critical for our future. This proposal seeks funding to expand our high school summer internship program to include ten participants who have a specific interest in stem cell research. The program creates a dynamic and stimulating educational and research environment and inspires its participants to choose STEM careers. It consists of an enriched summer research experience, a mentorship with our faculty and scientists, and coursework to establish a framework for understanding the scientific and ethical complexities of stem cell and biomedical research. The objectives of the program parallel the CIRM goals articulated in the RFA solicitation. We seek to: (1) increase the scientific knowledge of interns; (2) increase scientific communication skills of interns; (3) teach them to think critically about the theory and application of biomedical research; and (4) encourage a diverse population of students to pursue careers in STEM fields. By providing this experience we hope to create a feeder pipeline and encourage talented students to pursue careers in stem cell research. However, those who do not become researchers will benefit by applying learned perspectives and honed professional skills to their future educational endeavors and societal responsibilities.
Statement of Benefit to California:
To compete in today’s global, high-tech economy, the United States is becoming more dependent on workers and leaders prepared in STEM fields; however, national studies indicate that too few American students have the requisite knowledge and skills in science and mathematics to participate fully in today’s economy. The United States trails sixteen countries in Europe and Asia in the proportion of each country’s college population who earn degrees in science and engineering. This situation is only complicated by the shortage of qualified science and mathematics K-12 teachers. The need to address this issue has never been more acute. Since 1989 we have partnered with the local school districts and the county office of education to provide students and teachers with opportunities to engage in cutting-edge research. We firmly believe that the success and prosperity of our community and its citizens relies on these long-term commitments. We are in a unique position to develop programs that help increase student achievement by leveraging existing relationships and our deep connection to the community to create an innovative and scalable model for this national problem.
Reviewers agreed that this is a well-conceived proposal with appropriate scope for training high school students and introducing them to careers in science. Reviewers cited a number of outstanding features of the proposed program including detailed plans for student recruitment, program evaluation and long-term follow up of participants and innovative and challenging training activities. A particular strength was the outreach to both underrepresented students and those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. There was some concern that the proposed curriculum may be too ambitious, although the program’s past record of success demonstrates the feasibility and value of planned activities. Overall, reviewers were very supportive of this application. They praised the proposed program’s excellent design, innovative approaches and worthwhile activities.
- A motion was made to recommend this application for funding. The motion carried.