Funded by: National Science Foundation (NSF). Human Resource Division (HRD)- Targeted Infusion Project (TIP): Award ID: 1036285
Historically, interest and participation of Under-Represented students in Plant Science, as a part of STEM (Science, Technology, Math, and Engineering) education, has been alarmingly low compared to other disciplines. Although biological science-related disciplines have seen an increase in the participation of minority students in recent years, plant science as a STEM discipline continues to experience difficulty in attracting minority students. In an effort to raise interest of under-represented students in the Plant Science area of STEM curriculum, Howard University- the premier, Minority Serving Institute, has teamed up with noted Plant Biologists to offer Plant Biotechnology-based summer workshops for Under-represented Pre-Freshman students and High School Science teachers serving minority students. Dr. Hemayet Ullah- an Associate Professor of Biology at Howard University has developed the project plan and the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a grant to fund the planned Targeted Infusion Project. Two well known Plant Biology Faculties- Dr. Heven Sze and Dr. Caren Chang from the University of Maryland at College Park are providing extensive technical support for the summer workshop.
The main objective of the grant activities is to raise interest in Plant science within under-represented student populations. Plant Science as a STEM subject/career choice ranks low with under-represented students. However, it is expected that exposure of students- who have yet to develop a concrete career plan, to the recent technological advances in plant biotechnology may help develop interests of exposed students for this important subject. With this aim in mind, the first Plant Biotechnology Workshop at Howard University will be offered in the 2011 summer session. The workshop has recruited ten Howard Pre-freshmen students and four DC area High School Biology Science Teachers. In the subsequent years, the workshop scope will be broadened to include students from other Minority Serving Institutes and teachers from other school districts serving minority students. It is expected that workshop trained Science Teachers will impart the acquired knowledge to their student populations. In this regard, the workshop mentors will make the resources available for the high school projects as well.
In the face of the current global climate and energy situations, scientists often see the prospect of plant biotechnology based solutions very promising. The students will acquire exposure to the cutting-edge plant biotechnology based ground breaking applications that are rapidly changing the bio-farming practices around the world. In addition, the exposure will help the participating students to develop a positive attitude towards plant science based science careers. The design of the enhanced instruction will help the middle/high school science teachers to increase their content knowledge about theory and applications of plant biotechnology which in turn will potentially be communicated to their students who are yet to develop any concrete career choices. The design of the project will solidly prepare the participants to understand how people learn, how to work with real life scientists, and how to develop the formative impressions into real life career choices.
Acknowledgment and Disclaimer:
This research website is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Award ID: 1036285. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.