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Engaging Rural Appalachian High School Girls in College Science Laboratories to Foster STEM-Related Career Interest

    Author: Karen L. Kelly1
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    Affiliations: 1: Biology and Occupational Therapy, Milligan College, Milligan College, TN 37682
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 01 March 2016
    • ©2016 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology.
    • [open-access] This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/legalcode), which grants the public the nonexclusive right to copy, distribute, or display the published work.

    • Supplemental materials available at http://jmbe.asm.org
    • Corresponding author. Mailing address: Milligan College, PO Box 500, Milligan College, TN 37682. Phone: 423-461-8909. E-mail: klkelly@milligan.edu.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. March 2016 vol. 17 no. 1 77-80. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v17i1.996
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    Abstract:

    Setting students on a path to success in careers in science is a challenge in poor rural Appalachian public schools. Students face many socioeconomic obstacles. Their teachers are also limited by many factors including inadequate facilities, under-funding, geographical isolation of the schools, and state-testing constraints. Additionally, students and teachers lack the availability of outside science educational opportunities. In an effort to address this situation, 24 academically strong high school junior girls and their teachers from the Carter County School System in rural east Tennessee were invited for a laboratory day at Milligan College, a small liberal arts college in the heart of the county. Science faculty, female science majors, and admissions staff volunteered in service to the project. The event included three laboratory sessions, lunch in the college cafeteria, and campus tours. This successful example, as evidenced by positive evaluations by the invited girls and their teachers, of educational outreach by a local, small liberal arts college to a rural county school system provides a model for establishing a relationship between higher education institutions and these underprivileged schools, with the intention of drawing more of these poor, rural Appalachian students, particularly girls, into a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) career path. Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education

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References & Citations

1. Avery LA2013Rural science education: valuing local knowledgeTheory Pract52283510.1080/07351690.2013.743769 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07351690.2013.743769
2. Harmon HL, Smith KC2012Legacy of the rural systemic initiatives: innovation, leadership, teacher development and lessons learnedEdvantia (NJ1)[Online.] http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED531890
3. Hass B2May2014In Carter County, fighting meth is a dirty and dangerous businessThe Tennessean[Online.] http://archive.tennessean.com/article/20140302/NEWS01/303030012/In-Carter-County-fighting-meth-dirty-dangerous-business
4. Hodges GW, Oliver JS, Tippins D2013A study of highly qualified science teachers’ career trajectory in the deep, rural south: examining a link between deprofessionalization and teacher dissatisfactionSchool Sci Math113626327410.1111/ssm.12026 http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ssm.12026
5. Mountain States Health Alliance20152015 Community health needs assessment[Online.] https://www.mountainstateshealth.com/sites/default/files/documents/FY2015CommunityHealthNeedsAssessmentSSH.pdf
6. United States Census Bureau2015State and county quick facts, Carter County, Tennessee[Online.] http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/47/47019.htmlAccessed 22 July 2015
7. United States Department of Health and Human Services Offices of Adolescent Health2013Trends in teen pregnancy and childbearing[Online.] http://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/adolescent-health-topics/reproductive-health/teen-pregnancy/trends.htmlAccessed July 22, 2015
8. University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation2014County health rankings and roadmaps[Online.] http://www.countyhealthrankings.org/app/tennessee/2014/measure/factors/14/data?sort=sc-3Accessed 22 July 2015
9. Wilder M, Otieno T2010Enhancing inquiry-based science and math in Appalachian middle schools: a model for community engagementKentucky J Excellence Coll Teach Learn8919
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/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v17i1.996
2016-03-01
2017-05-26

Abstract:

Setting students on a path to success in careers in science is a challenge in poor rural Appalachian public schools. Students face many socioeconomic obstacles. Their teachers are also limited by many factors including inadequate facilities, under-funding, geographical isolation of the schools, and state-testing constraints. Additionally, students and teachers lack the availability of outside science educational opportunities. In an effort to address this situation, 24 academically strong high school junior girls and their teachers from the Carter County School System in rural east Tennessee were invited for a laboratory day at Milligan College, a small liberal arts college in the heart of the county. Science faculty, female science majors, and admissions staff volunteered in service to the project. The event included three laboratory sessions, lunch in the college cafeteria, and campus tours. This successful example, as evidenced by positive evaluations by the invited girls and their teachers, of educational outreach by a local, small liberal arts college to a rural county school system provides a model for establishing a relationship between higher education institutions and these underprivileged schools, with the intention of drawing more of these poor, rural Appalachian students, particularly girls, into a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) career path. Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education

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