Science Projects Proposal for School Districts
. h t t p : / / W W W . S C I E N C E - P R O J E C T S . C O M / . . . . . . .

Science Projects for Students AND Teachers

**** Proposal ****
--- Science is best learned by doing it, not memorizing it. ---

A Proposal for Involving Teachers and Students in Science Projects

Table of Contents

Not "Science Fair International"

  • Guard-Dog Bacteria
  • The Genesis of Mammalian Intestinal Flora
  • Wind-proofing homes - and making a wind-tunnel

Philosophical Background
Antecedent San Diego Model

CHUM in Greater Detail


Comments and Suggestions

..... PREVIEW OF GOOD THINGS TO COME: For the past eight years this author participated in a teacher-student program in San Diego. Of 94 students coming from deep inner-city schools in this program's opening years, 92 graduated from college and all 92 are now in medical, law, and graduate school. Almost 98%! AND the students were not chosen on the basis of their grades! This is the sort of results that gives this author what might be termed missionary zeal. I know of no other program with such a record. I want to see your district take this up! A further attached description is entitled "CHUM."

.....For establishment beginning next summer: a year-round program in which a teacher-student research program is proposed that would be started in both St. Thomas, VI ("USVI"), and the Williamsburg/James City County Virginia ("WJJC") School Districts. In the spirit of the National Science Foundation's initiative promoting development of research projects involving BOTH teachers and students, this proposed program would bring teachers and students together for joint novel research projects that, on the basis of experience with a San Diego program mentioned in the next section, would quickly grow into a year-round endeavor. The two widely separated locales offer an number of differing ecological and intellectual resources that would promote not only highly collaborative projects but also offer science teachers sufficient extended times on the "away site" to learn, among other things, about other very different ecosystem(s) so as to improve their own perspectives in teaching.

.....One of the main drawbacks of current science fair or other types of science projects by middle and upper school students is the individuality of them. Most real science today is a social enterprise with various workers on a team. Furthermore-, and this is very important - because of the individuality of the projects, the teachers themselves gain neither much credit nor any internalization of the work done by their students. Experience with the San Diego CHUM program shows that having the teachers as co-researchers and co-authors greatly adds to their teaching development as well as to the continuity of the program throughout that year and many following.

.....Initially the program's pilot would begin next summer. As envisioned the program would rapidly evolve in the next year or two into one similar to that in which I have participated for the past eight years in San Diego called CHUM(Consortium of High schools University and Medical school). Some of you may have already heard of the success of that program, and can read more about it in the following document. Adapting the big-city model to smaller communities should not be difficult. Indeed, others have feelers out for adaptation to completely rural communities.


.....The major precident is the abovementioned CHUM program in San Diego. In essence, the program has been a year-round "pipeline" extending from 7th through 12th grades (and actually beyond because returning college students were offered teaching assistantships to help in the program.

.....If only one year of the above pipeline is dissected, as shown in the next figure, one sees the orderly progression starting with the fall semester of applying the previous summer's experience to getting a project well underway. A short winter workshop for both students and teachers has been inserted to offer a short burst of encouragement to "fix" any of the problems that the students might have stumbled into, and then the spring semester is devoted to the presentation and going to meetings. Finally there is another summer's work to launch into the next year's project or projects.

.....In addition to the formal CHUM program, I have run my own small pilot study on this both in the WJCC area as well as being "e-linked" elsewhere via this web-domain. At the Antilles School on St. Thomas, I had a teacher and her students who were avidly working together with frequent e-mail and fax consultations with me. During those two years there, that teacher twice received the highest teaching evaluations in the history of the Antilles School,which is the only school in the United States to be awarded two concurrent Presidential blue ribbons for excellence in education. She has since moved to teaching in the Grandview Prep School near Miami, and maintains close ties via this web-domain. Meanwhile, locally in the Willamsburg area I have maintained personal and frequent personal and e-contact with a number of teachers and students at both Lafayette and Jamestown High Schools. Helping to support these endeavors, I have put the students in contact with those at other schools such as those back in San Diego, and a rural community in Decatur Texas. The teacher, Mrs. Joylynn Woodruff, is the science coordinator for her district, and for the first time last year saw some of her students move beyond the district. Indeed five of eight of her students placed in the Texas Regionals (TX has no state level). I understand that Mrs. Woodruff received a nice salary bonus for this. So, even with this mentoring-from-afar, successes have come that are virtually unique.

.....Two years ago one of the WJJC student projects was accepted for presentation to join 5,000 others out of roughly 16,000 proposed by professional scientists including Nobel laureates. On top of this, it was then selected as one of 80 out of those 5,000 for highlighting in the press room in Atlanta. And all the while, it should be pointed out, the student was not known to be a disadvantaged minority high schooler. This past year two more students travelled the same route for presentation, this year in Chicago on June 01, 1999. This new presentation will be co-authored by four high school TEACHERS, and a dozen students from various locations (Virgin Islands, Virginia, Miami and San Diego). This is the real way science is done - collaboratively, with each unit's being a part of a team and concentrating on its own expertise. Thus last June, Alicia Ferrara and Shana Phillips of Jamestown High School (WJCC) played a major role that was built upon work initially started during the summer of 1998 in San Diego, where one of the Antilles teachers worked for the summer on it also.

.....Certainly not to be overlooked are two of the San Diego students who won first place nationally in Science Fair for their work, and several students from both Decatur High School (TX), and Warwick High School (Newport News, VA), who made it up to the highest levels in their respective states.

Not "Science Fair International"

.....Before I continue, it should be stressed that I am NOT advocating Science Fair International. Many states including California and a number of Virginia school districts have had trouble with the philosophy of SFI, which is so structured that a great amount of what the scientific community considers good science does not fit their mold. What I am strongly advocating is the institutionalization of science project activity within the student and teacher bodies of districts. Such activity can take a variety of forms ranging from individual work to group activities to such as mentioned above where teachers AND students from various parts of the nation work together. The main thing is that the students AND teachers have hands-on participation in doing something new to science and so move the cutting edge of knowledge a little further. Not only is the world a little better off, but the rise in self-esteem and morale in both students and teachers is immeasurable. For teachers this gives them great pride to be able to stand before their students and colleagues and say: "I discovered this which you now read in your book." And then: "Would you like to join me in discovering something else that no one anywhere before knew in the whole history of the world?" These teachers become new persons with fire twinkling in their eyes!

.....From the section on CHUM, you will see the extreme successes it has had in San Diego. With only slight modification, I am spinning-off from CHUM to establish something like it in these two areas. Next year, I shall be taking early retirement from teaching microbiology and biochemistry at the College of William and Mary. This gives me time to run a pilot next summer, and then get all the grant applications in so as to propell the program into full swing by summer of 2001.

Specific Proposal

.....For the summer of 2000, I propose an 8-week program for upper level middle and high school participants. Perhaps six to ten teachers plus perhaps 2 students per teacher would work altogether as a large mission-project group that will lay the ground work for subsequent fall and spring projects that will very likely be accepted for presentation at another annual meeting of a professional scientific society, as well as be strong competitors in any regional science fairs. Within this web-domain are many pages of proposed projects that the teachers and students should be able to do. They may seem very sophisticated, but remember that an eager 8th grader from Newport News (VA) discovered the biochemical strategy of fever that is used by our bodies to kill infectious bacteria (under fever conditions most bacteria grow readily but produce malformed surfaces that become highly susceptible to perforation by normal immune factors called serum complement proteins). This work is now under consideration for being written up in Scientific American - a dream of most scientists! More than 350 students and teachers have collaborated on this "mission" project. Also remember that these types of projects have an 8-year history of success in San Diego under my supervision of the high school link in a pedagogical pipeline extending up from 7th grade.

.....I propose next summer to be a "start-up summer." And if the people in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands can also get theirs going. In following summers, some teachers and perhaps some students could exchange. Not only would this be like a mini-sabbatical with perq's (Tomians want to escape the "Rock", and people here would like to be under the palms), but much more importantly, the two locations offer scientific benefits almost beyond belief to each other. Of next importance is the concommitant networking between the two locations so that collaborative projects would blossom. Until very recently, rapid networking via the internet between such groups would have eventually become prohibitively expensive, but with the rise of virtually free internet traffic, such rapid and frequent intellectual commerce is available as a most valuable tool.


.....St. Thomas. I would like to see the collaboration between the public schools of the Virgin Islands and one of the top private schools in the nation. (I should mention that I have used the lab facilities of the private school for a summer, and am thus moderately familiar with the school.)

.....The private, non-sectarian Antilles School is the only school in the nation with two presidential blue ribbons for excellence in education. It spans nursery school through high school. For the two decades, almost every graduate has gone on to major universities. It is my understanding that nearly half of the students are considered disadvantaged and are on scholarships partly funded by those parents who can not only afford to send their child to that school but also support another one as well. The school is situated along the middle of the southern coast of mountainous St. Thomas.

.....Like the Territory itself, the public schools of this area are greatly disadvantaged in that they are physically very distant from the mainsteam of American life. Merely the purchase of proper equipment is a problem to say nothing of being in close proximity to mainline university-industrial complexes with all those potentials for intellectual networking. However, within only a few miles are three of Baron von Humbolt's four major ecosystems - coral reefs, desert and rain forest. (Only the Alpine glen is missing; Humbolt: c1800; cf "Humbolt Current".) Beyond the study of basic sciences, population pressures also make the environmental sciences an important interest in the area that is so dependent upon tourism and maintaining the quality of life appropriate to being the "American Paradise". What an opportunity for field biologists! Earth sciences, too, would find a good home there on this mountainous projectory of plate techtonics. Being a territory of the United States, it is important to note that stateside health and accident insurance are valid there.

.....Williamsburg/James City, Virginia. Situated next to the Chesapeake Bay at the middle of the east coast of the United States, this area is also a highly historic region. Mention only two nearby places and its significance is felt: the first English-speaking colony of Jamestown (then called James Citie) with Captain John Smith and Pocohotas; and Yorktown, where for all intents and purposes America won the Revolutionary War with great help from the French. Williamsburg itself is a Rochefeller restoration site that is so widely known that it is the fourth most visited tourist site in America, preceding the Grand Canyon.

.....Scientifically, while this area does not have any of the four classic examples of Humbolt's categories of ecosystem, it has extensive estuarine and fresh water habitats as well as vast forests. And beyond that, this area is close to major libraries and research laboratories that are generally out of reach for Tomians. Earth science devotees would find the sedimentary geology, fossil beds and Piedmont and Mountains a "living" textbook laid out before them. Tomians interested in physics of various types would find NASA, Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co, and the Jefferson (accelerator) Labs great resources. (NNS&D was recently acknowledged as the area's most significant tech center - consider what it takes to build, equip and test an aircraft carrier! Yes, these are the same ships that unload thousands of sailors in St. Thomas for shore-leave!)


.....Microbiology. Because most of the mentoring work for science projects must occur in the summers and falls of each year, it is suggested that both the USVI and WJCC systems join with the nearby University of the Virgin Islands, and Thomas Nelson Community College (VA) to extend their offerings in the high schools to more than just college introductory biology to including a sequel senior year's lab-intensive college level microbiology course, which this author would enjoy offering. If the idea is not palatable to those institutions of higher education, then the two systems would do well to offer it as an AP Microbiology course. This author has for the past 33 years taught lab-intensive microbiology at the highly selective College of William and Mary, the nation's oldest state university. Having such a course not only would train the students in being able to run a large number of projects currently outside of their training, but the mere fact of having such a course would ensure that a great deal of useful equipment is around for project use. Much of microbiological equipment can be used in many other scientific endeavors.

.....A Long Pipe-Line. The athletic paradigm of getting promising young people early and coaching them year-round would be the main emphasis as students proceed up the pipeline of science study from eventually 4th grade upwards. Even for those who leave at the end of the pipeline for college, there could exist the possibility that in summers they could be teaching assistants in the program. CHUM in California has done this very successfully, which resulted in the program's being a mix of students, teachers and undergraduates.


.....In athletics and music, a youngster who shows promise is coached and practices year-round. Why not employ this paradigm in teaching science where the "bread and butter" are assured for life and the betterment of our world is a likely prospect?

.....It is not possible to lay out a rigid lesson plan that will last for years. This not the "re-invent the wheel for the zillionth time" program of the usual classroom. This is because the operation of science ultimately feeds on rapidly evolving projects. In essence the scientific experience is one in which the participants work together at first mastering a set of techniques that most programs make as their "end." This program makes those standard techniques the "means" by which the workers can then move into and explore the unknown. One of the most inciteful attributes of a course that I taught at the University of California in San Diego was imposed upon me by the world-class biology department there when my course became the first lower-division lab course in the history of the university. The mandate was that I was to spend about 30% of my time not lecturing facts but instead taking the students to the cutting edge and beyond presenting biological "facts" and "counter-facts" that were still fuzzy and not fully explored. It is a shame that almost all students in undergraduate years and earlier enroll in courses that take them unknowingly right up to the cutting edge and then never tell them that they are at the edge of knowledge. The excitement of science is not a plethera of factlets, but the method and skills of exploration and discovery. The factlets are, afterall, really only the "dots" on the graph of the history of science. Science is the extrapolation and putting new "dots" out there.

.....So we start with a non-rigid plan that will teach the participants about how science is done, and along the way, they will not only pick up a lot of methods, but also discover a few things, too. This is very much like "on the job training."

.....So what are the characteristics of a project. The best ones are those one might term "mission projects" - so large that any one person could not do them. Humanity didn't get to the moon by the work of one person! There remains a large number of scientific mysteries that even middle school children and their teachers can investigate with full confidence that newly discovered results will emerge. Most of these projects require various skills - too many for any one person. So teamwork is the name of the game. While usually collaboration in studies is discouraged, that is the way most modern science proceeds. As the great student of science teaching, Shiela Tobias, asserts: there is definitely a sociology of scientific exploration. What is more, this proposal will offer the association of more than one school system, each with assets that would often offer significant collaborative benefits. With the recent advent of e-mail, communication between the participants is "free flow".

Guard-Dog Bacteria

.....Not only do lactating females of all mammals produce milk that contains huge amounts of bacteria, but they do not show any signs of infection by these bacteria. Furthermore it was discovered by two teachers and about 10 students last summer that once a woman has consumed a cubic inch of Swiss cheese the main bacteria (Propionibacteria) in that cheese begin apprearing in her milk within two hours, and then in great numbers by three hours. This Milk Bacteria project is currently being greatly expanded by students working at the College of William and Mary, Jamestown H.S., Decatur TX, and the Antilles School, USVI. Access to milk goats was crucial and that is the role being played by students in the last two schools.

.....Another Guard-dog project: Every membrane lining the openings of our bodies is coated with these few types of bacteria, which might be termed 'dairy bacteria' because they are found in great numbers in all dairy products ranging from raw milk to cheeses. We can only speculate what these bacteria are doing on these membranes in all animals inspected as well as on the surfaces of plants and, most recently discovered, in the airways inside of leaves. It is suspected that these slow growing bacteria are not there competing for the space, as that would require faster growing species. Instead it is presumed that these bacteria are there because our plant and animal (eukarotic) bodies are using them as guard dogs with teeth. To test that presumption would require that we show that such bacteria do have 'teeth' and that they can kill other bacteria and maybe even fungi. How might they do it? The only way that stands the test of reason is that they inject "time-bomb" plasmids into other cells and trigger genetic destruction.

.....How to test this? Very simply mix some heterologous bacteria into a soup of these dairy bacteria (aka "lactic acid bacteria"), and then see if the added bacteria multiply, merely survive in dormancy, or are killed. An easy thing - for 'starters' - is to mix some E.coli into some various soft cheeses - including naturally soured milk, and see if the E. coli die off. E. coli are chosen because they are very easily identified. Only E. coli will grow up as red colonies on MacConkey Agar. Indeed, the dairy bacteria cannot even grow at all on that type of agar. (MacConkey Agar contains as active ingredients: lactose, phosphate, methyl red, and a natural detergent (bile salts). E. coli and most Gram-negative bacteria can grow in the presence of the detergent, the dairy bacteria and all other Gram-positive bacteria cannot. Only E. coli can convert lactose via metabolism into a variety of acids in enough quantity to be able to lower the pH and precipitate the methyl red to turn the colonies red.

.....Can you design some experiments to test things like yogurt, brie and milk that you have allowed to stand around. What are the controls? (Hint: heat some of the cheese to kill that dairy bacteria, and then....)

The Genesis of Mammalian Intestinal Flora

.....Two years ago, a high schooler asked about when humans first acquire bacteria in their intestinal tracts. The medical books rather dogmatically stated that babies were born sterile. No published evidence could however be found to back up that statement. More than a dozen meconium samples from newborns were analysed Meconium is the name of the material that is within the large intestine of fetuses. It has the appearance of highly viscous, greenish, blackish axel grease. In all cases, the samples, which were less than minutes old, were found to contain more than a billion bacteria per gram of meconium. This student's work was presented at the 1998 annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, which was held in Atlanta. Of the 5,000 presentations, this student's was chosen as one of 80 for highlighting in the press room. The presenter was not known to be a high school student. The science was made to stand on its own in this international arena of professional scientists.

.....This year four high school teachers, and a dozen students presented new work at the 1999 annual meeting of the ASM being held in Chicago. This year's group looked at the bacterial populations in meconia taken from fraternal triplets and from a baby that was nearly a month overdue. Again their work was among the fortunate third to be accepted for presentation, and again their work is to be highlighted in the press room. As before, the workers were not known to be high school faculty and students. The science again stands on its own.

.....What is left to be done in the future? More study needs to be done on multiple births - litters, in fact. Do the fetuses share their bacterial strains, or are is each fetus an isolated incident? Since most litter mates are fraternal rather than identical, the researchers should keep their eyes open for any opportunities of identical births. Of particular interest, of course, would be identical human twins.

Wind-Proofing Homes

.....Recently violent winds came through this area. Some homes were damaged, but not as many as will happen when a hurricane strikes this area directly sometime in the future. Did you ever watch a house come apart in hurricane winds? One of the best is a set of videos if by Discovery Channel's "Raging Planet" series. Some remarkable footage is available of before, during, and after scenes in Kauai. One particularly interesting scene is the aftermath of damage done to a whole block long of houses. Some houses were roofless while other still had their on - albeit mostly without shingles. The before pictures indicated that those that lost their tops had roofs of rather shallow pitch. Those that were nearly flat are very sharply pitched were still mostly intact. Thus it does not seem as though the wind merely flattens the house by blowing it laterally. Rather the wind seems to lift off the roof, and then often the unreinforced walls collapse. How does the wind lift off the roof? The storm videos show the wind variously striking the pitched roof end-on or from the side. Usually when it is from the side, the roof rises and lifts off and away. Isn't the roof like an airfoil? How does an airfoil work as an airplane wing? Is there anything that can be added to existing homes that would amount to spoilers and interfer with the lift? And what might be done architecturally to design new homes more hurricane resistant.

.....To do these projects would require a wind-tunnel with lots of neat avionics for measuring airpressures and windspeeds at specific points. I suspect that NASA has some people who might help you to design a wind-tunnel over summer. Do a great job, and you can expect to be invited to go to colleges rather than applying!


.....THE CONCEPTION OF THIS IDEA. There are two vignettes dealing with the very first thoughts that merged and led to this program.

  • This author once met Jonas Salk on an elevator. When Salk was asked who first turned him on to science, the developer of polio vaccine responded that it was one of his high school science teachers. And when asked what he thought of his undergraduate science experiences, Salk pondered a moment and then said: "I am a scientist despite that!" Subsequently more than 40 scientists were asked this question, and the answers were nearly unanimously in accord with Salk's. What a scathing indictment on undergraduate education! It was for that reason, as you will read elsewhere in this document, this author was given the task to make nearly 30% of his undergraduate course a consideration of things that were not known for sure, because that is where the cutting edge of science lies. This was one of the major pedagogical revelations in this author's life - this requirement led to one research project after another.
  • The other seminal event in this proposal began over lunch. One of the top administrators passed by looking very down. Asked to join a group of us professors and a few students, he start spilling his gall about problems with the university's 70-odd outreach programs. Since all of us profs were high schoolers long before such programs came into existence, we asked what it took to a high schooler to get into such a program. "Oh, you need a GPA of at least 3.6..." We all looked at each other. None of us had had such an average and collectively we represented perhaps as much as $25 million in grant money! Then someone piped up: "And Einstein didn't either!" Thus is was very likely that the real world-shakers were being missed! Among those at the table was our colleague, the major student of the teaching of science in American, Shiela Tobias, who herself had several millions in Wellcome Foundation grants. Over the next several weeks, small groups of us met to discuss what sorts of high schoolers we had been. We came to the conclusion that we were all hands-on tinkerers - men and women alike. So we accosted the administrator with a proposal that we be allowed to initiate a new outreach program based on do-ers rather than memorizers. We wanted to select children who had done something and presented it in their classes or school. We did not even want to consider grades - a very extreme position, indeed! The administrator must have been intimidated and wanted us to fail and not to expose his other programs as not too good. So he gave us three high schools in the deepest inner city area of one of the nation's ten largest cities - San Diego. After ten years, the results of tracking our earliest high schoolers came in:

    • Of 94 students
    • 93 went to college
    • 92 graduated from college
    • all 92 are now in medical, graduate or law school!

    And remember these were impoverished, minority students! And we later found that one of those students came into the program with a 0.6 GPA and ended the next year with a 2.5 and then higher and higher. In short, this author knows of no other program half as successful. NSF seems to agree: when the request for a renewal for salaries went in, they responded by saying that the program was so obviously beyond pilot stage that it was up to the localities to pick it up. It then became a line in the California state budget for a year before the San Diego Unified School District picked it up. (Yes, there are still federal funds coming in for disadvantaged student stipends.)

.....THE NATIONAL AND LOCAL PROBLEM. Not only is the output of young scientists below the national needs, but that portion derived from the lower socioeconomic groups is especially low. This proposal addresses this problem on a local level by inventing a conduit that will support the teachers and further encourage a larger portion of our youth to retain their interests in the science/technology fields so that a much higher fraction of our youth move on into medicine and the other health sciences as well as the other technological fields. Some emphasis will be placed on recruiting minorities into this conduit. This program will be open to ALL students and their teachers.

.....THE VEHICLE. Science teachers will tell you that those students who have had to think their ways through problems inherent in completing a science project are the students with the more promising futures. However, for the vast majority of science teachers, there are major problems with involving just a few students in even small research projects (Table I). What is being presented is a proposal that has been proven to work EXTREMELY well in the deepest inner-city schools of San Diego. There is no excuse that such a system wouldn't work elsewhere.


Pedagogical problems associated with science projects:

  1. Requires almost one-on-one attention by teachers (Teachers' times seem better spent on their main groups of students.)
  2. Projects usually don't neatly fit into the school clock (Most projects take hours, and are intrinsically irregular.)
  3. Projects of scholarship value often require expertise outside of teacher's area (Each teacher has an expertise, but often this doesn't mesh with the student's needs. Hence, project choice is limited.)
  4. Equipment is usually specialized and not available (Being not part of the normal curriculum, it is uneconomical to purchase expensive items for the use of just a few students for the year.)
  5. Transporting students to labs is cumbersome and costly

.....Now let us see what approaches have been taken by others to tackle this problem of training young scientists.

.....OTHER PROGRAMS PAST AND PRESENT. There are many university programs nationwide that take teachers or students under their wings for special training, and then return them to their home schools with great hopes that the teachers will teach more productive science, and that the students will become active young scientists. There are few followup studies showing those promises come to fruition.

.....An excellent model to study is outside of science. It is one which has run for generations - the identification and training of athletes. The most promising young children and their trainers are coached year-round, given all the equipment they need, and led step by step, year by year towards fulfillment, and much of it on a one-on-one basis.

.....We need to follow this athletic model with our budding scholars also. This proposal does just that. At an early age, those young people who show an interest in the sciences should be identified. They and their home teachers should be coached by professional scientists, and given the equipment to do their experiments. Generally, the students would qualify for the next step in the program by having participated in a science fair or similar activity. The moat between the schools and the institutions of higher education should be bridged and the doors opened so that the teachers and students could feel free to make use of the facilities and faculties of the nearby participating college, university, state or federal lab. This proposal promotes such a continuum of the scientific pathway of exploration and discovery.

.....THE SOLUTION. What is needed are not more teachers, but rather itinerant support mentors who rove through the schools in a district helping with summer teacher training and during the regular part of the year lifting the burden of the one-on-one to direct the interested science projects students either during class time or outside of class. Also remember that in athletics there is much outside of classtime - even weekends. It is just this idea that has been used highly successfully in San Diego. But how to develop weekend laboratories? Already there are computer rooms in the local recreation centers. Every rec-center director contacted has been amenable to the idea of converting part of that space to laboratory facilities. Local college students, who are now hired as computer consultants, can also be hired to watch over the young experimenters.

.....The involvement of a variety of professional scientists could be a problem. All too often university researchers feel they have too many undergraduates to contend with let alone having to deal with rambunctious high schoolers. However, there are four groups of adult scientists who can be identified as being willing to act as coaches and mentors:

  1. retired college professors or science,
  2. graduate and undergraduate students with science majors,
  3. retired high school science teachers, and
  4. high school science teachers who want to be upgraded in their skills and take on this special task.

.....The incentives to these people certainly include pay, and the possibility of part-time work. But most importantly it is the opportunity to use one's imagination, get out of the groove and work with enthusiastic young people on projects that will be different each year. This is not routine work.

.....PARTICIPANTS, DEMOGRAPHICS. In all locations involved in this proposal, ST2 would be an alliance of high schools which would share each other's strengths, and also try to extend the network outward to form new partnerships. This is especially easy in these days of nearly free electronic internet. The schools of the two areas in question could easily augment each other's scientific exploratory activities. That was already delved into in depth in preceeding pages.

.....PURPOSE. The function of ST2 is to establish a year-round pipeline of science education, mentoring and coaching that will move students from the seventh grade through high school, and college to eventually enter medical, graduate or other schools of advanced or training. A very fond hope, of course, is the production of science teachers. In other words, one aim would be, for example, to take local students and eventually produce career health professionals who return and remain in the home area.

.....In each year of this proposal, the "pipeline" will have additional segments added as the curriculum is phased in. It is expected that within six years the full pipeline would be in place. Permanent personnel will be few and low on administration, and very heavy on immediate interaction with students and teachers. Only in the summer and winter special sessions would personnel numbers rise.

.....Construction of the pipeline will be from the near the top, and then extend in both directions. The rationale for this is that many high school teachers need training in doing research before they can be expected to supervise complex science fair projects. The first year's senior high summer program will include both teachers and students working together on projects. Some of the teachers will be from the junior high years, and will soon be able to go back to their schools and help get their segments of the program established.

.....Many science camps for teachers are of very limited success because once the teachers leave the relative wealth of equipment at the home university, they can do almost nothing back at their schools on their highly limited budgets. This program is NOT a university outreach - it will be home-grown right from within the existing school system. In so doing, the one or two full-time mentors would provide the teachers with the necessary equipment. Experience has it that such equipment can usually be either homemade, or borrowed from a local college or commercial laboratory. Thus, the teachers and their summer student partners would be able to return to their classroom full of confidence that they could actually do their proposed science fair projects.

San Diego's "C.H.U.M."
(Consortium of High schools, Undergraduate and Medical school)

.....This original program has been modelled after an extremely successful one called CHUM that has been in place in San Diego for the past decade dealing almost exclusively with the poor and underrepresented "inner city" children. The PI of the proposed USVI/WJCC has been the instructor of the "CHUM-2" level, delineated below, for the past eight years. That model has resulted in more than 6-times as many minorities participating in Science Fair than prior to its inception. For students who have reached the senior high level six or more years ago, nearly 95% are now in graduate or medical schools. Think about that! These students came from five of California's most deprived inner-city schools.

.....During the summer of 1996, the part of the San Diego program located on the Univ. of Calif. at San Diego campus (UCSD) evolved one step further and invested in some special teaching assistants particularly for those CHUM-2 high schoolers to assist them in working their ways through the attached university introductory biology lecture/lab course because the competition for grades was intense from the regular college undergraduates. While in previous years, the high schoolers' grades ranged from withdrew, C- up to A-, this year's TA help vaulted them into a new range of B- to A+ with an average only about a quarter letter grade below that of the undergraduates. Again, this was a fully approved undergraduate course with the University of California system. The high school students thus received 4 quarter credits in the prestigious U.C. system.

.....Most recently, the San Diego program became funded by the San Diego Unified School District and, in addition to the students, became a teacher training site. This June 1, 1999, four teachers and about 20 students from San Diego, the Virgin Islands, and Williamsburg will be presenting their findings at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology. This is not a science fair: this is a real arena of science with Nobel laureates there also presenting their work on an equal footing. What is more is that of 5,000 invited participants, this small group of "ours" is being highlighted in the international press room for their work on how mothers inoculate their fetuses with huge numbers of intestinal bacteria so as to have their babies come into the world better able to protect themselves from the onslaught of many dangerous types of bacteria and fungi.

(more specific syllabi are in various appendices)

Figure 1: This macroscopic overview of the later stages of the science training pipeline shows how the students and teachers would be involved in their summer opportunities.

.....Grades 7 & 8: The two major activities of this first year will center on parental value of education and identification of prospective students by their teachers as being enthusiastic about science. As one of the main barriers to learning is a lack of appreciation for education, considerable time will be spent at local organizations such as churches, where parents would congregate. Meanwhile, the identified students would be given some a range of introductory biological science experiences to help them chose prospective areas of interest. These would not be confined to biology, but would also cover the physical sciences and mathematics. The format for the students would be a few short after-school meetings, and a couple of ST2 mini-camps - one in the first 4 days of Christmas Vacation, and the other for 4 three-day weeks during the summers (Fig. 2). The students would be provided yellow bus travel from prearranged pickup points to attend the mini-camps at one of the university members.

Figure 2: A closer look at one of the year long links in the pipeline shows how the students and teachers would be involved in various activities. It is important to know that there is essentially no added burden upon the teachers in their already very busy schedules. The support mentor(s) are the ones who do most of the dealing with the students who are working on projects during the normal school semesters


.....Grades 9 & 10: Those students AND teachers then convene for an after-school workshop with the science specialist. In two or three of the early sessions of a workshop, the students and their teachers will learn to work as a group on techniques fundamental to doing a selected discipline such as microbiology. Later sessions of the workshop will focus on more advanced techniques needed to complete a science fair project. During the remainder of the academic year, the science specialist will frequent the students and their on-going investigations in their schools to offer assistance. Occasionally the students and their teachers will need to use the specialist's university facilities. A mini-camp similar to that of the 7th and 8th grades will also be held during the first 4 days of Christmas Vacation. These mini-camps will stress the proper use of measuring devices, the planning and doing of a simple experiment, and the writing of science reports.

.....Summers I and II: Students who had indeed entered the science fair will then be invited to attend a 6-week long summer research experience run by the science specialist at his/her university. This will lay the groundwork for the students' junior science fair project. Summer-I will include some relevant chemistry and mathematics, along with a more intensive study of measurement (pH meter, spectrophometer, etc.). Summer-II will be a continuation of the previous summer and will include more library work and writing. The students will also be given mini-projects that will require them to contact professionals for information. This will begin the acquaintance process with various professions and specialties. (All students will receive stipends of $750 for the 6-week long program.) The specialist will earn $5,000, and two assistants (generally undergraduates in that discipline, but also teachers who have previously gone through the Summer-II stage) are eligible and will receive $2,000 each.

.....Grade 11: The students and their teachers will meet in an after-school workshop for several sessions with the specialist. (A series of fieldtrips to libraries, to meet other scientists, etc., will be planned.) In the end, a science fair exhibit will be presented.

.....Summer III: Those students who have made a science fair presentation will be invited to attend an 8-week long summer research experience, in which is nested the opportunity for the students to enroll in a regular college course. Most of the students will work together on a major project. Teachers who have had little lab experience will also be invited to be full participants in this summer's program. All participants (students and teachers) will receive stipends of $1,500. The specialist will receive $6,500, and two advanced undergraduate or graduate teaching assistants will receive $2,000 each.

.....Grade 12: The students (and their teachers) will be encouraged to use the university facilities in completing the final science fair project. They will also be actively seeking admission to college.

.....Summer IV: Immediately after graduating from high school, the students will be placed individually in active research laboratories in the medical school and surrounding university laboratories.

.....Subsequent to Summer-IV, those students who have been admitted to one of the participating colleges will be allowed to lab research opportunities during each of their four undergraduate years. Furthermore, alumni who have gone elsewhere will also be welcomed back on the UCSD campus for continuing summer lab research experience, and supported by stipends. This post-high school part of the overall "pipeline" may from time to time seek support by REU and RUI grants.


Total personnel at the time of "build-out" several years hence.
PERSONNEL. Students: children from 7th grade through high school, and adults (teachers and perhaps some unpaid parents)
The PI: PhD (microbiology); MS (biochemistry); A.B. (chemistry), and able to head up a section of a summer program
Assoc.-PI's (unnamed): must have at least a MA or MS in a science, and able to head up a section of a summer program
Assist. PI's (unnamed): must have at least a BA or BS in a science, and able to assist in a summer program or head up a section of a mini-camp.
Assistants (unnamed): teachers, graduate and undergraduate students who assist the various PI's in their activities.
Community associates: preachers, etc., who advertise the importance of education to parents.
Administrators: bookkeeping and ordering; medical school outreach office

BUDGET PER YEAR AT "BUILD-OUT" ItemSchool DistrictsUniversitiesNSF PI: academic year32,000. 20,000.8,000. ...Summer-III3,000.6,600.3,000. Assoc.-PI#1 (acad. year)24,000.0.10,000. ...Summer-II3,000.0.3,000. Assoc.-PI#2 (half year)8,500.0.8,500. ...Summer-I3,000.0.3,000. 2 T.A.'s Summer-I2,200.0.2,200. 2 T.A.'s Summer-II2,200.0.2,200. 2 T.A.'s Summer-III2,200.0.2,200. Shop construction ...Hourly pay0400.400. ...Supplies400.0.400. Mini-camp ...PI salary500.0.500. ...4 other instructors2,000.0.2,000. ...5 T.A.'s0.0.1,000. Student Stipends ...40. Summer-I0.0.30,000. ...30. Summer-II0.0.30,000. ...20. Summer-III0.0.30,000. kind20% kind0% Supplies200.200.1,200. kind5,000. Totals83,600.27,200.142,600.


Comment Page

Please tell us your comments, suggestions and advice.

                MY NAME is:
My e-mail is:
My district's name:
District's address: More address: More address: City/state/zip:

I want to go to the TOP OF PAGE or ESCAPE!