Science is an integral part of everyday life and oftentimes making the connection between our encounters in the real world and the science and technology behind them is not trivial. The LEEDAR program is an interactive outreach program which connects the real world of science and research to the classroom showing high-school students the beauty of science as it exists outside of textbooks. By integrating isolated fragments of knowledge from their high school courses, the high-school students find that they can genuinely understand the basics of science in our world. Even more importantly, they learn that science is anything but a passive endeavor. Students design their own experiments; for many, this is their first creative experience in high-school science education. They learn that science is about questioning as much as it is about answers, and about finding ways to extract Nature’s secrets and applying knowledge toward technological goals.
Our approach: Most high-school-aged students in this country are extremely aware of “global warming” as it has permeated the popular media with talk of rising global temperatures, greenhouse gases, energy conservation, and “green” technology, but have little understanding of the underlying causes. We tie together the concepts of “global warming,” “gases,” and “energy” while mentoring students at the high-school level. CO2 is an especially satisfying choice for demonstration experiments in the form of dry ice. The novelty of working with dry ice is one way the Rutgers team brings the “university experience” into the high school.
Most people do not focus on the technology and science that items that we use everyday. By allowing students to explore the science behind the food we eat to the soaps and cleaning supplies we use to clean and the technology devices we use to communicate, students can apply the basics from the classroom on a more personal level. This module focuses on mentoring students as they investigate the science principles that question how chemicals interact, what properties make a product work, and question how that product is made.
We have a variety of curricula, ranging from 1 to 3 days, which include an interactive lecture, mentoring, designing an experiment, and presenting results. As the name of our program (LEEDAR) suggests, we will be encouraging high school teachers to collaborate with our “Design Your Own Experiment” module. We have found this to be very successful in teaching students to think critically about a problem, formulate a hypothesis, and design and analyze an experiment to support or refute their hypothesis