Graduate Molecular Biology Outreach Program (GMOP)
Communication of scientific progress to the general public has often been a challenge, and there is an apparent lack of scientific literacy amongst the US population. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress from 2009, approximately 22% of 4th graders and 30% of 8th graders in New Jersey fall below the basic science standards, while only 38% and 32% are proficient, respectively.
The overall effect from this deficiency in science education can be felt in the current struggle for academic funding and the public mistrust of science. While there is no easy or immediate answer, we feel that it is possible to strengthen the understanding and appreciation of science in students grades K-12, which will carry over into the students’ later life.
Our group of volunteers has been working with local and regional schools for the past four years to enhance science curriculum. By performing demonstrations and hands-on experiments we will familiarize students with the scientific process, instilling an appreciation for the subject matter and rendering science manageable and enjoyable for all ages. These events allow us to make science more accessible by serving as a bridge to bring together young minds with graduate students and professors. Our activities have centered largely on Princeton, NJ, and the surrounding communities, with larger events occurring in New York City and Washington D.C.
GMOP is now entering its third year of financially supported operation, and we have been growing exponentially! Our volunteer base is constantly growing, and we have participated in more outreach events and opportunities than ever. We have increased our involvement in regional and national science expos and festivals by hosting events at the Cambridge Science Festival and Philadelphia Science Festival that ranged from a Model Organism Zoo to an 'Ask a Scientist' popular science pub night! We have also been helping local secondary school students conduct research experiments in and out of the classroom setting. With our steadily growing repertoire of equipment and volunteers, and sponsorship from the Princeton Pace Center, we've reached more community members than ever, and plan to increase our impact further with the coming year.
This year, we intend to continue increasing our impact both locally and globally. GMOP will host Science Café and lecture series that will allow the public to hear from and interact with Princeton University researchers and faculty. We will also be returning to the United States of America Science and Engineering Festival (USASEF) in the spring, and we will be hosting even more events than usual! With something for audiences of every age and level of scientific exposure, we are ever committed to further establishing a public understanding of and love for science.
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