Baylor College of Medicine (BCM), one of the nation's premier scientific research institutions, has more than 30 years of experience in conducting science education programs for and with teachers, schools, and districts in Texas and nationally. In 1996, BCM established the Center for Educational Outreach, whose mission is to improve biomedical, basic science, and health education across the K–16 continuum, and to promote access to careers in medicine, healthcare, and science-related fields. Funded by many public and private sources, including the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Center’s projects have reached thousands of educators, students, and members of the general public, from pre-school through graduate school and beyond.
Today, BCM’s Center for Educational Outreach provides in-person and Web-based education and resources for diverse audiences—both local and national—all designed to improve science teaching and learning, promote science skills and literacy, enhance understanding of clinical and basic biomedical research, and increase student access to medical and health professions careers. These efforts have helped BCM to become recognized as a leader among U.S. medical schools for its contributions to informal and precollege science and health education, and also for its commitment to evaluation and research on best practices in science and health education. For more information about the Center for Educational Outreach, and for access to the Center’s free educational resources, please visit its award-winning website, BioEd Online, at http://www.bioedonline.org.
Educational outreach programs at Rice University focus on the interplay between teachers and students to educate and prepare them for future careers in the fields of science and technology.
Rice University School Mathematics Project
The Rice University School Mathematics Project (RUSMP) was established in 1987 to provide a bridge between the Rice math research community and Houston area math teachers. RUSMP’s mission is to help Houston K–12 teachers and administrators better understand the nature of math, including effective teaching and assessment and the importance of math in today's society.
Sally Ride Science Festival
The mission of the Sally Ride Science Festival, which began in 2006, is to encourage middle school girls toward careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Each festival features an inspiring talk by a woman astronaut; workshops for students, parents and teachers; and a street fair with hands-on activities, booths, food, and music.
STEMscopes is a K-12 online science curriculum program that provides hands-on inquiry activities, assessments, problem-based-learning, intervention tools, acceleration materials, and teacher support resources. STEMscopes is aligned to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) state standards and is already used by more than a million Texas school children in more than 450 school districts.
SciRave is an app that combines the power of music and the fun of tactile learning. SciRave presents some of the best lessons from Rice's STEMscopes' curriculum in fast-paced songs where students can sing along while playing games onscreen. SciRave is available via the Apple App Store and via Google Play for Android-powered devices.
The Caruth Institute for Engineering Education at Southern Methodist University (SMU) sponsors a variety of programs designed to spark interest in the sciences and mathematics. Visioneering, a two-day program for students in 7th–10th grades, aims to bring students together to celebrate the impact engineering has had on the world. Students have the chance to explore engineering through hands-on projects applicable to every day issues affecting the community and individual.
Other Caruth Institute K–12 programs include Kids Ahead, STEM-Works, and Crime Scene Investigation camps. Launched in 2010, the Kids Ahead program aims to increase middle school students’ interest and competency in STEM through access to activities, projects, events, and information to improve their STEM skills. STEM-Works is a companion website to Kids Ahead for adults. Sponsored by the Department of Defense and SMU, the STEM-Works program provides resources adults can use to get kids excited about STEM, including events, games, and articles on subjects such as robotics, energy, and forensics.
SMU hosts CSI Camps in Dallas and in cities across the country, ranging from weeklong summer camps to camps-for-a-day and teacher workshops. These camp programs introduce middle school students and teachers to the science and technology behind crime scene investigation through engaging hands-on activities and expert presentations.
Texas A&M University’s Science Outreach was established by the College of Science to stimulate interest and encourage careers in science, engineering, and technology. There are several programs geared toward 6th–12th grade students: Expanding Your Horizons, Science Bowl and Junior Science Bowl, Texas Junior Academy of Science, Texas Junior Science & Humanities Symposium, and Texas Science Olympiad.
Expanding Your Horizons
Expanding Your Horizons is a conference that inspires middle school girls to recognize their potential and pursue careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). Through Expanding Your Horizons Network programs, adult female role models who work in STEM professions present short, hands-on workshops with the ultimate goal of motivating girls to become innovative and creative thinkers who are ready to meet 21st century challenges.
Science Bowl and Junior Science Bowl
The National Science Bowl® and its regional competitions are math and science competitions among teams of high school students (grades 9–12) throughout the country. The National Junior Science Bowl® and its regional competitions are math and science competitions among teams of junior high/middle school students (grades 6–8) throughout the country. Both programs encourage students and teachers to achieve educational excellence in the sciences. The fast-paced question-and-answer categories for the National Science Bowl® are astronomy, biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics, current events in the scientific community, computer, earth, and general science. Question-and-answer categories for the National Junior Science Bowl® are astronomy, earth and life sciences, computer science and technology, physics, chemistry, mathematics, and general science.
Texas Junior Academy of Science
The Texas Junior Academy of Science (TJAS) is an annual meeting and science competition. High school students (grades 9–12) from across the state conduct research during the school year and present results at TJAS through both spoken and written word.
Texas Junior Science & Humanities Symposium
The Texas Junior Science & Humanities Symposium (Texas JSHS) promotes original research and experimentation in the sciences, engineering, and mathematics at the high school level, and publicly recognize students for outstanding achievement. Texas JSHS provides an opportunity for Texas high school students to present the results of their original research in a professional arena. Students who participate in the symposia also have the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas, interact with practicing researchers, and explore future academic and career opportunities. The Texas JSHS program includes both research paper and poster presentations.
Texas Science Olympiad
The Texas Science Olympiad (TSO) tournament is a rigorous academic interscholastic competition that consists of a series of individual and team events which students (grades 6-12) prepare for during the year. The competitions follow the format of popular board games, TV shows, and athletic games. These challenging and motivational events are well balanced between the various science and engineering disciplines of biology, earth science, chemistry, physics, computers, and technology. There is also a balance between events requiring knowledge of facts, concepts, processes, skills, and science applications.
aggieTEACH is the undergraduate, secondary mathematics and science teacher preparation program at Texas A&M University. In the aggieTEACH program, advisers work with students majoring in mathematics and science related degrees to ensure they take course work aimed toward receiving both their bachelor's degree in a STEM field and their Texas mathematics or science teaching certification for grades 7–12. Most students in aggieTEACH complete their undergraduate degrees in the traditional four year college plan. Utilizing a field-based, hands-on, and mentored approach to teacher education, students in the aggieTEACH program gain experience in mathematics and science classrooms with some of the area's best teachers. In its collaboration with the College of Education and Human Development, aggieTEACH has helped position Texas A&M University as the state leader in university-trained mathematics and science teachers produced for the last seven years.
Texas Tech University has a number of STEM education outreach programs. The Integrated STEM Initiative on the South Plains (ISISP) program provides resources and institutional support for K-12 outreach, including recruitment and mentoring. The main focus of ISISP is to enhance a culture of STEM outreach on the TTU campus and to provide K–12 students across the South Plains easy access to study STEM disciplines at Texas Tech.
Teacher programs include the GK–12 Building Bridges and the Middle School Math and Science (MS)2 Project. The goal of both programs is to provide curriculum to STEM teachers that will equip them with more experience and highly effective ways to teach science, math, and engineering in schools. The Proyecto English Learner Science and Mathematics program is designed to develop STEM content knowledge and teaching practice of elementary teachers who serve linguistically diverse students.
Undergraduate student programs include the Plains Bridges to the Baccalaureate and PRISM programs, which provide pathways to college level STEM studies for community college transfer students and mathematically or biologically talented undergraduate students, respectively.
At the K–12 level, Texas Tech hosts Get Excited About Robots (GEAR), a 6–8 week LEGO® robotics challenge designed for elementary and middle school students. Working as a team, students develop skills in designing, building, and programming LEGO® robots to perform specified tasks. Similarly, Boosting Engineering Science and Technology (BEST) is a robotics competition held every fall semester by Texas Tech’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.
In order to decrease the gender gap, Texas Tech offers Science: It's a Girl Thing, a residential camp for girls. Through hands on and recreational activities, girls have the chance to gain knowledge and skills in STEM areas. Other prominent K–12 summer programs include a summer math academy for talented high school students and the Lubbock offering of the statewide TexPREP program.
Science and Engineering Education Center
The University of Texas at Dallas Science and Engineering Education Center (SEEC) works closely with UT Dallas and community partners to develop and disseminate innovative and effective hands-on STEM outreach programs. The SEEC goal of providing broad-based inspiration, engagement, and preparation of kids for real-world tasks relies on building strong collaborations with a range of community partners and an emphasis on informal science education (free-choice learning) and project-based (inquiry-based) learning.
The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston
The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston (GSBS) Outreach Program is a dynamic graduate student-led initiative, dedicated to raising awareness of and promoting enthusiasm for science in the community. This includes working with local schools (K–12), often in underprivileged areas; attending science nights, during which volunteers demonstrate science concepts through experiments; giving science lessons in classroom settings; and serving as science fair judges. Graduate student volunteers also invite high school academic organizations to the graduate school for career seminars and lab tours. Recently, they arranged an event for a local high school group of girls interested in STEM careers. High school students were able to talk with female graduate students and faculty about their career choices, research interests, and life as women in science.
GSBS Outreach’s most extensive event is operating Project GRAD’s Biology Academy. This two-week program is held for 30 local high school students who are at risk for not completing high school, but who are likely to qualify for Advanced Placement Biology. The program consists of daily lessons on a wide range of topics in biology, from using blood typing to solve a CSI-like crime scene to sheep brain dissections! The Biology Academy is taught primarily through hands-on experiments and demonstrations, while emphasizing the importance of the scientific method and proper note taking. By the end of the program, students not only get to experience how fun and rewarding science is, but also gain a better understanding of what a job in science would be like. For many students, this program gives them the encouragement and drive to finish high school, go to college—often as first generation college students—and seek a career in science.