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Teen Meetings Outside the Box (TeenMOB): a Program to Build Science Communication Through Networking

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Author: Teresa Evans | Category: Community Outreach | November 07, 2014

Over the last year, the innovative science outreach initiative, Teen Meetings Outside the Box (TeenMOB), led by Teresa Evans, PhD, has assembled a team of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, K-12 science teachers and UTHSCSA faculty to bring science and health education to area teens. 

The TeenMOB team planned and executed a highly successful Science Night on October 27th, at nearby Natalia High School. Natalia students and their parents/families were encouraged to attend. 

The program included 8 booths with topics including, but not limited to, healthy and diseased organs, the cardiovascular system, and neuroanatomy. Scientists and teachers manning the booths were able to engage in discussions with participants, answer questions and connect with the community. 

The TeenMOB team conveyed a variety of science and health topics in a manner that was engaging to both Natalia high school students of all ages and their families.The founding vision of TeenMOB was to leverage the knowledge and skills of graduate level trainees and K-12 science teachers in a science outreach program for high school teens with the goal of developing scientific interest among students from schools with limited science resources. 

It is important to note that the planning and execution of the TeenMOB Science Night was facilitated by interactions between UTHSCSA trainees and science teachers from the Voelcker Biosciences Teacher Academy (VBTA), led by Dr. Michael Lichtenstein and Rosemary Riggs. The VBTA is a network of local education professionals who work to improve STEM education in the San Antonio region.

TeenMOB Science Night enabled trainees to interface directly with teachers, teens, and their families through dynamic activities and interactive lessons designed to educate the public on healthcare-related issues. Trainees were aided on site by high school science teachers (both local and VBTA-derived) and the school nurse. 

A total of 180 students and parents attended the night’s events and by happy coincidence, the school board, superintendent of schools, and high school principal also visited the event. TeenMOB Science Night has: (1) Provided engaging & facilitated group discussions that promote scientific career building skills and mentoring relationships among trainees, K-12 science teachers and teens (2) Increased STEM education experiences for high school students who are underrepresented in STEM fields (3) Established a sustainable template for a Science Night program in San Antonio; and (4) Established an educational relationship between UTHSCSA and a local community.

Support for TeenMOB Science Night was provided by an ASBMB Public Outreach Committee Seed Grant awarded to Dr. Evans, the Voelcker Biosciences Teacher Academy, the UTHSCSA Graduate School for Biomedical Sciences, and the UTHSCSA Vice President for Research.

Due to the great success of this event, TeenMOB and the VBTA are earnestly planning future Science Nights. 

If you are interested in participating in TeenMOB/VBTA outreach events, please contact Teresa Evans at evanstm@uthscsa.edu.



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