Texas A&M Professors Reach Out to Budding Scientists
February 22, 2005
Scientists from Texas A&M University have shared their
passion for science by visiting more than 30,000 students in their
classrooms over the past five years as a result of PEER
(Partnership for Environmental Education and Rural Health), an
innovative outreach program of the College of Veterinary Medicine
and Biomedical Sciences.
Lighting a fire in youngsters about the world of science and
discovery is the goal of the program, says Dr. Larry Johnson,
Director of PEER. "The PEER Program is a partnership between rural
public schools and higher education to stimulate interest and
enthusiasm in science among middle school students."
The program has been making a significant impact on students for
the past several years. Grant money was recently awarded from the
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the
National Institute of Science (NSF) to continue the work of
nurturing the minds of budding scientists.
"Middle school is the prime development time to stimulate a
student's interest in math and science," Johnson says. The
curriculum materials used in the program offer a unique approach to
integrating environmental health science into science and
non-science classes such as math, English language arts and social
studies. "The curriculum engages students through a written
narrative where they travel to different parts of the world and are
faced with various environmental health problems which they are
required to solve," explains Johnson.
Each adventure narrative is in Power Point and contains links
along the way to various learning resources with information on
skills needed in each subject. "Examples of these include links on
how to calculate percentages in math, how to establish latitude and
longitude of a location in social studies, how to write a satire in
English or what types of bacteria or parasites can cause a
particular illness." Johnson says. "For example, The Kiss of
the Assassin focuses on pathogens and bacterial infectious
diseases that can be obtained from insects, like the "kissing bug",
that harbor the bacteria and serve as vectors for the disease."
The program also provides valuable learning resources and
opportunities for students, teachers and scientists. "In addition
to 'firing up' students about science and math, the program also
serves as a comprehensive online distance learning tool for science
teachers and their students. It also gives graduate scientists the
platform to share their excitement and knowledge about science with
the schools in rural and remote communities," Johnson says.
"Texas A&M faculty view the program as an enrichment tool
for their personal and professional development and a unique
opportunity to serve as mentors to our scientists of the future,"
For more information about the PEER program at Texas A&M
University's College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical
Sciences, visit http://peer.tamu.edu
Angela G. Clendenin
Director, Communications & Public Relations
Ofc - (979) 862-2675
Cell - (979) 739-5718
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