Lovely vignettes of REU students, conveying the personal impact of this experience. How has this video been used? Is it excerpted from a longer version? What plans are there to disseminate this video?
Hi Richard, thank you for the nice note. Your questions are good ones and, yes, this video was originally five minutes. We created it to help recruit minority students into our summer-long mentored-research program at the La Selva Research Station in the lowland rainforest of Costa Rica. For the moment we are showing it at study abroad fairs, we have it posted on our website, and we send links of the video through student inquiries. Sponsored by NSF, eligible students in the REU program receive free room and board, round-trip airfare, and a weekly stipend.
I have often wondered if the NSF might support a half-hour or even hour-long documentary for PBS and other distribution, sharing the remarkable stories of REU students. Your producer did a fine job here!
I have thought about how this might be accomplished many times, such as following a student from his or her college, through the summer, and to his or her return home. To me, this would be fascinating, especially in a “site-based” program where a cohort of students interact with one another throughout the summer. Our NSF grant from the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) provides support for Native American and Pacific Islander undergraduate students to come to our research stations in Costa Rica for a field-based experience. As part of the summer, the students interact with leaders from the indigenous communities in the surrounding area and learn about their environmental issues. Such a film, following these students from their home location in the Pacific or from, perhaps, their reservation would be extraordinary, as their everyday experiences and their life-styles are so different from what they encounter in Costa Rica and yet, in the course of the summer, they too find the science to be relevant to their lives and their communities and a bridge to a baccalaureate degree and even a career choice.
You should share your short reel with the media program officers in AISL, Valentine Kass or Sandy Welch, and strategize on the most competitive approach. The other factor, which you may be learning with your present videos, is what avenue is likely to reach the target audience of potential young scientists? Perhaps it’s YouTube rather than PBS!
Thanks for the suggestions, Richard. I will contact Valentine Kass and Sandy Welch about the AISL Program. I have reviewed the program writeup previously, but will review it more closely to see what might be appropriate. Though we have a number of videos available on our youtube channel, we need to be more aggressive in using opportunities available to us, as well as our social media platforms, to distribute videos such as this one to potentially young scientists and their families. Thanks again for the AISL recommendation.
Isn’t it wonderful how responsive kids can be when they are given chances to really DO science? In spite of tedious protocols, rain, and mosquitos. My son did a similar EarthWatch project as a teenager and it changed his life. Of course, he knew that he wanted to do the project, so his experience was almost guaranteed to succeed. How do you get prospective participants interest? How do you measure success?
We recognize that the students selected into the program have an affinity for science, it is just that they don’t see how they can get from their latent interests to actual science degrees. I think taking students at risk of dropping out of college, changing their majors, or even studying in a community college or university from where they would never get this opportunity, is precisely why we are so enthusiastic about this program. We spend a good part of the year working with faculty from such schools to identify students who would prosper from this experience. The work, though, is not just about giving the students a summer experience but in following up afterwards with the faculty so that the students are using what they learned in their classes, are presenting their research in their departments and at national science conferences, and are submitting their research papers for publication. We work with their faculty to track the students and help in their transfer to four-year schools or to complete their science degrees. Ultimately, for us, it is what they do after their bachelor’s that is important. Do they “bridge” to a Masters or Doctorate and/or do they move into the work force as young scientists and technicians. Can we show that they are sustaining what they learned that one summer and parlayed it into a future for themselves when none existed previously. We think we can show this and will focus on this even more comprehensively over the next several years.
Bravo on the work you have undertaken. REU In the Forest should be submitted for an Emmy award. Seriously. Have you thought about developing an REU In the Rainforest version to be shared at the high school or middle school level, for students and teachers? Native American students at those grades are falling through the cracks and never make it to the community college or university levels. It’s not that they are incapable, but a result of having few qualified teachers and little access to STEM courses, and hope, to make them eligible for college. This makes it difficult for you to find students for your program. You have a package that would entice young students to make it if they learned the pathway to get there much earlier. Thank you for the work you do.
Hi Jerry, thank you for your comments. We do indeed offer a graduate-level accredited course for in-service science teachers over a two-week period every summer. Much of this course focuses on training teachers to teach students how to do field-based science. Interestingly enough, the use of video as a teaching tool has become an integral part of the course. See this link:https://vimeo.com/82469877 Unfortunately, we have not focused on teachers teaching students from Native American or Pacific Islander communities, but the idea makes sense. Instead, we have focused on teachers from urban schools. In a similar vein, we do offer faculty members from schools with high Native American and Pacific Islander undergraduate populations with NSF-funded Research Opportunity Awards to conduct research at our La Selva Research Station alongside our REU students. This to give these faculty members an experience similar to what they are recommending for their students. It could be interesting to offer RETs (Research Experiences for Teachers) to science teachers in a similar manner to see how it might impact their students and their interest in science. I will pass your suggestion on to our education staff. Thank you so much for the comment and the suggestion.
This is an absolutely beautiful video which is so effective in sharing the program with a large public audience. I agree with Jerry that it would be great to show this video to students in high school and middle school. Thanks for submitting this!!!
thank you, Joni, for your comment. CSR is very interesting. Would love to talk more about your activities. I suspect we have a lot in common.
My 5-year-old grandson says: “It’s so that people are able to make students that are in college become scientists! I love the way you made this video.”
Thank you so much for your comments!
Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.
Summer-long research experience for minority students at the La Selva Research Station in Costa Rica funded by the LSAMP and REU programs at NSF.
Copyright 2017 TERC
Funded by NSF