Starting in 2015, UNR’s introductory microbiology service-learning course partnered with the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum to bring science to the community through interactive projects and camps.
This marks the fourth year the UNR students have collaborated with the Discovery Museum. They developed floor programs to be incorporated into Discovery Camps that ran during the Washoe County School District’s spring break, Monday, April 2, through Thursday, April 5. Seventy microbiology students were in charge of leading the public through these projects, which consisted of scientific concepts which they transformed into hands-on and informative experiences. The UNR students spent a total of 1,575 hours on these projects spanning from the initial design stage to leading them on the museum floor.
UNR professor Ruth Gault began this partnership to help share science with the community in an accessible way, and provide her students with real-world experience in translating information to different publics.
“We do a very good job training our science majors to be professionals with communications skills in the form of peer-reviewed publications, presentations at professional meetings and interacting with visiting scholars,” Gault said. “However, our science students are not always given the opportunity to develop their communication skills when interacting with the general public. Through this interaction with the Discovery Museum, students are able to apply their science background in a way that makes science more accessible to the general public.”
In the past, students have developed week-long camps, Teen Night Programs and mock-ups for exhibit pieces. The Discovery Museum’s Curriculum Director, Meghan Schiedel, works directly with Gault’s class to help them execute and market their projects to the community. While the students showcase their hard work in the assigned week, Schiedel makes sure to preserve the projects for future use.
“On a broader scale these projects build capacity for The Discovery to do more in our community because we will add it to our curriculum library and will hopefully lead it for years to come,” said Schiedel.
This service-learning partnership will hopefully continue to generate interest in the science-based fields within the community and provide UNR students the practical experience they may need going forward in their careers.
Cassidy Bowman can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @Nevada Sagebrush