Direction discovery: A science enrichment program for high school students.
Launch into education about pharmacology (LEAP) is an inquiry-based science enrichment program designed to enhance competence in biology and chemistry and foster interest in science careers especially among under-represented minorities. The study of how drugs work, how they enter cells, alter body chemistry, and exit the body engages students to conceptualize fundamental precepts in biology, chemistry, and math. Students complete an intensive three-week course in the fundamentals of pharmacology during the summer followed by a mentored research component during the school year. Following a 5E learning paradigm, the summer course captures student interest by introducing controversial topics in pharmacology and provides a framework that guides them to explore topics in greater detail. The 5E learning cycle is recapitulated as students extend their knowledge to design and to test an original research question in pharmacology. LEAP students demonstrated significant gains in biology and chemistry knowledge and interests in pursuing science. Several students earned honors for the presentation of their research in regional and state science fairs. Success of the LEAP model in its initial 2 years argues that coupling college-level coursework of interest to teens with an authentic research experience enhances high school student success in and enthusiasm for science.
Sikes, SS; Schwartz-Bloom, RD
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