Last year, Dr. Melina Hale of the University of Chicago’s biology department was one of the lead scientists who received a joint grant with other investigators from Northwestern University to start an IGERT program for graduate students in biomechanics. IGERT—which stands for Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship—is the National Science Foundation’s flagship training and education program for researchers. As a long-time member of Project Exploration’s Women in Science program, Dr. Hale reached out to Project Exploration to develop robust public and youth outreach training for the IGERT graduate students.
Biology graduate students who work with Dr. Hale are no strangers to out-of-school time science education with Project Exploration. Charlie McCord and Heather King have been members of the Women in Science program for years, sharing their passion and knowledge with minorities and girls through Project Exploration programs, such as Sisters4Science, All Girls Expedition, and Junior Paleontologist. Both Charlie and Heather were in the first cohort of the IGERT team last year, leading their fellow IGERT members in designing innovative and youth-centered programming for Project Exploration students. Some of their accomplishments have been highlighted on the IGERT program’s official website.
This year, four new graduate students from the University of Chicago and Northwestern University make up the second cohort of the IGERT program and are joined by one returning IGERT student:
- Chris Bresee, Northwestern University
- Justin Lemberg, University of Chicago
- Gregg Tabot, University of Chicago
- Sarah Wohlman, Northwestern University
- Mukta Vaidya, University of Chicago
After learning best practices for communicating with youth, the new IGERT team had an opportunity to see youth public outreach in action by observing a number of Sisters4Science sessions. On Tuesday, October 25, the IGERT team convened at the Field Museum to discuss their observations and work in teams to develop their own youth-centered science activities to share with Project Exploration students.
In a few weeks, Sarah and Mukta will lead an exciting Sisters4Science session at Reavis, a local Chicago public school near President Obama’s home! Gregg and Chris will lead Science Digest, a new Project Exploration program in which students have an opportunity to engage with scientists in informal ways to learn about science career pathways and possibilities.
Stay tuned for blog posts about their upcoming sessions!