Abstract

To help foster interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), it is important to develop opportunities that excite and teach young minds about STEM-related fields. Over the past several years, our university-based research group has sought to help grow excitement around the biomechanics and biomedical engineering fields. The purposes of this technical brief are to (1) discuss the development of a partnership built between a St. Louis area high school and biomechanics research lab and (2) provide practical guidance for other researchers looking to implement a long-term outreach program. The partnership uses three different outreach opportunities. The first opportunity consisted of 12th-grade students visiting university research labs for an up-close perspective of ongoing biomedical research. The second opportunity was a biomedical research showcase where research-active graduate students traveled to the high school to perform demonstrations. The third opportunity consisted of a collaborative capstone project where a high school student was able to carry out research directly in a university lab. To date, we have expanded our reach from 19 students to interacting with over 100 students, which has yielded increased interest in STEM related research. Our postprogram survey showed that outreach programs such as the one described herein can increase interest in STEM within all ages of high school students. Building partnerships between high schools and university researchers increases the interest in STEM amongst high school students, and gives graduate students an outlet to present work to an eager-to-learn audience.

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