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