Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach
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The Metropolitan Nashville Public School (MNPS) district struggles with the challenges of a large urban school district with a predominantly low socio-economic, high minority, and high needs student body. With these challenges in mind, the Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach connects the research and scientific expertise of Vanderbilt University to Nashville classrooms and provides critical mentoring and partnership programs. The Center was designed to implement programs that positively impact science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) reform, increase student learning, and enhance teacher preparation. Three principal programs have been developed by the Center:
- The Scientist in the Classroom Partnership (SCP) has been the major activity of the Center, and places scientists-in-training into classrooms one day per week to co-teach with a K-12 teacher. Since 2000, 145 graduate students and post-doctoral fellows, and 150 teachers, have participated in the Center's SCP program with impacts for thousands of students in 42 predominantly low achieving, at-risk elementary, middle, and high schools. Forty-one percent of the fellows have been African American or Hispanic, with a gender ratio of 43 percent male to 57 percent female.
- In 2007, the Vanderbilt Center developed a unique, on-campus School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt (SSMV). It is an enrichment program on the Vanderbilt campus for highly motivated students from area high schools. The SSMV program has completed eight years of activity, with 83 highly motivated students finishing the four-year program. Currently, the SSMV has a total enrollment of 101 students in grades 9-12. Study results from 2007-2011 showed that SSMV students' GPA averages increased 3 points compared to a well-matched comparison group (96.97 vs. 93.87). There has been a surprisingly low turnover rate, resulting in a retention rate of 80 percent. SSMV students have been first-authors and co-authors on seven scientific papers; 32 students have won semi-finalist and regional finalist status in the Intel and Siemens competitions.
- In 2010, the Interdisciplinary Science and Research (ISR) program (adapted from the SSMV program for implementation within the high school setting) began at Stratford High School in Nashville. The JSR program—now in its fifth year—has a current enrollment of 80 students. Two classes have graduated (32 students), with 14 enrolled in four-year colleges and six in two-year colleges. Several students have completed research internships and have won local and regional science competition awards.
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