JVIC scientists promote research to local high school students

Students learn innovative techniques, earn credit during summer class at JVIC

Collaboration is an integral part of the IDEA Commons at Missouri State University, and the scientists at the Roy Blunt Jordan Valley Innovation Center (JVIC) have recently established a new partnership with Springfield Public Schools in order to offer a summer class entitled “Science Research and Design” to high school seniors. The class is free and is being hosted at JVIC June 7-July 2.

“Science Research and Design” provides an opportunity for students interested in math and science to shadow, intern, assist and research with scientists at the Jordan Valley Innovation Center, allowing students to pursue their interest in a hands-on, real world setting. Working alongside the JVIC professionals, students will learn more about current research, scientific opportunities available locally and the importance of education.

Dr. Paul Durham
Dr. Paul Durham

“The students are going to be doing hands-on experiments and immersing themselves in research,” said Dr. Paul Durham, director of the Center for Biomedical & Life Sciences and professor of biology. “We’ve found that many students don’t know what research really is or how difficult, and yet exciting, it can be. When you are trying to come up with novel ideas that are pushing the envelope of science, there will be frustrating periods when little progress is made. But for us, these difficulties make us question and strategize new ways to solve the problem. These students are learning a lot about challenges and perseverance, and due to a personal one-on-one setting, I think we’re able to cultivate their interests in the sciences.”

During the class, the students will be exposed to research and work with Bradford assays, biosensors, saliva diagnostics, gram staining, fluorescence staining, natural product organic chemistry, cell care, various microscopy techniques and usage, thin film physics, lithography, laser physics, optical neural networks, clean room usage in wafer experiments and carbon nanotubes, according to Stephanie Blake, physics instructor at Parkview High School.

“High school students are used to gaining science knowledge that is already accepted as fact via their textbook. It is my hope that this experience will allow students to understand the messiness of science,” said Blake. “We want the students to see that science is not a body of knowledge to be memorized, but rather a methodical action that involves exploration and discovery. This sojourn begins with a hypothesis and ends with lots of numbers that we then have to analyze to draw our own conclusions.”

All students will be required to conduct an interview with one of the professionals, keep a journal of the experience, create a scientific literature review, write a reflection paper and give a presentation summarizing their experience. Admittance to the class was based on an application process, and nine students were accepted into the program. Those who complete the course obtain a credit of science toward high school graduation.

For more information, contact Erin Parrish, director of research compliance, at (417) 836-4132 or erinparrish@missouristate.edu.

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