Science literacy has grown among the adult citizenry of the United States during the past couple decades, and we need to continue this positive trend. Undergraduate curriculum is one way to do this, but engaging people even earlier, during the formative K-12 years, can provide the spark of interest that may burn for a lifetime. Hands-on experiences, such as actually conducting experiments, are great ways to introduce kids to the joys of science. So we’re going there and you can help us do this by participating in a new initiative—the NIH Lessons About Bioscience (LAB) Challenge.
This online challenge asks people to help bring hands-on science into the classroom by submitting engaging experiments for elementary, middle, or high school students. We are especially interested in entries from scientists. I am sure that many of you, or your graduate students or postdocs, visit local schools from time to time and have a favorite experiment you bring along. Consider submitting it.
The goal of the LAB Challenge is to identify hands-on experiments that:
- are geared toward grades K–12,
- can be done using easily available, inexpensive materials,
- take no more than 90 minutes total of in-class time,
- have a clear learning objective, and
- are related to the NIH mission.
Submissions will be accepted until December 1, 2011. A panel of educators, students, and scientists will pick the top entries and announce the winners on March 1, 2012. The collection of experiments will be available for free in print, online, and on mobile devices. Winners of the NIH LAB Challenge will have their name and organization published in the final collection. In addition, they will receive an official winners badge that can be displayed on social media sites and websites.
I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with!