The PEER Program is a unique and innovative educational outreach effort with an emphasis on rural middle schools. The focus of this program is to enrich and stimulate student interest in the areas of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). To accomplish this, the PEER program has a multifaceted approach directed at K-12 students and teachers, undergraduate and graduate students, veterinary students, veterinarians, and scientists.
Through the encouragement and facilitation of scientists and veterinarians to visit classrooms, we are helping students recognize the connection between what they learn in school and what is being done in the “real world.” This motivates the students to learn more and possibly encourages their pursuit of careers in science and veterinary medicine. To date, scientists have visited over 35,000 students through this endeavor. Additionally, after being trained on pedagogy and presentation skills, graduate and veterinary students design and implement lessons on various topics in public schools. These experiences help hone their communication and presentation skills while fostering public school students’ interest in STEM areas.
The PEER program is actively developing high quality instructional resources that teachers can easily incorporate into the classroom. These educational materials merge the curriculum teachers must teach with current issues such as green energy technologies and veterinary research topics. To facilitate the specific requests from public school teachers, the Peer program also maintains a distance learning community where graduate and undergraduate students create teaching resources for activities and online lessons. Various other materials are also available online, such as video presentations by scientists, veterinarians, veterinary students and graduate students. Currently, over 1,750 teachers have attended workshops that demonstrate how to incorporate the many PEER materials into their classrooms.
I. Intensive Course in Research Writing
Each summer since 2008, Dr. Barbara Gastel, professor, has given an intensive course in research writing, mainly for researchers from Mexico. This 3-week course, which is held at the CVM, focuses largely on writing scientific papers and also addresses other aspects of scholarly and professional communication. Most researchers arrive with a rough draft and leave with a manuscript nearly ready to submit to a journal. Dr. Roberto Tuda Rivas, of the Universidad Autónoma de Coahuila, Unidad Torreón, coordinates the Mexican aspect. CVM graduate students in science and technology journalism supply some of the feedback on attendees’ writing and otherwise help with the course.
II. AuthorAID at INASP
AuthorAID at INASP (http://www.authoraid.info ), a project to help researchers in developing countries write about and publish their work, has a major base of activity in the Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences. Barbara Gastel, professor, is knowledge community editor for the project. This role includes developing and maintaining the AuthorAID online resource library, providing weekly blog posts, and giving workshops in developing countries (among sites thus far: Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, and Tanzania). AuthorAID graduate assistant Bernard Appiah promotes the online-mentoring component of the project and otherwise facilitates electronic interaction of AuthorAID community members. The project as a whole is based at the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications.