When you hear 'research' what do you think of?
Is it a mad scientist in a white lab coat pouring a rainbow of chemicals into a beaker? Maybe it's what you had to do before writing an essay, with books and internet browser tabs scattered over a desk?
However, science is so much more than that. Research pushes the bounderies of human knowledge, each day we learn more and more about ourselves, the world, and the cosmos around us. With these discoveries, we have found cures to diseases, invented new materials, learned how we function, and much more. Put simply: Research makes life better.
To embody and enritch these ideas, it is of the upmost importance to build a relationship with the community and elseware to not only create public understanding and literacy of science, but to help foster the next generation of scientists as well. To meet these aims, our lab participates in multiple outreach events per year, as well as pioneering the Hoosier STARS program, which connects young scientists in training to there recent peers in highschool to demonstrate that science can be accessible to them, as well as instilling all important outreach practices in the research assistants.
As scientists, there's few things we like more than data, so why not use it outside of the walls of the lab? Using pre and post questionairs, we can gauge student age, intrest, background knowledge and more, and tailor our presentation to them. This also allows a quantative resource to guage our own impact on the students, and provide feedback for areas to grow.
Science is hands on, so what better way then to let the students get envolved in their own experiment?! In one case, we took a famous biopsycology experiment on the road, and let the students be the scientests. In another, we let them get as close to a brain as you can get by letting them view comparetive anatomy across species from mice to sheep to humans.
We let our lab members take center stage and convey their own experiences and what lead them to the wide world of research to audiences as diverse as our researchers themselves: from across the state of Indiana, rural to urban, and from children of professional scientists to those who are the first in their family to attend college.