Going to Middle and Early High School Classes with Near-Peer Mentors
Having developed the concept of near-peer mentorship at the middle school/high school level and utilized it in a summer science education enhancement program now called Gains in the Education of Mathematics and Science or GEMS at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR), it is now our goal to ultimately expand this program into an extensive, research institute-based source of young, specially selected, near-peer mentors armed with kits, tools, teacher-student developed curricula, enthusiasm, time and talent for science teaching in the urban District of Columbia Public Schools (specific schools) and several more rural disadvantaged schools (Frederick and Howard Counties) in science teaching. We describe this program as a new in-school component, involving science clubs and lunch programs, patterned after our valuable summer science training modules and mentorship program. Our in-house program is at its maximum capacity at the Institute. Near-peer mentors will work in WRAIR's individual laboratories while perfecting/adapting hands-on activities for the new GEMS-X program to be carried out at McKinley Technology HS, Marian Koshland Museum, Roots Charter School and Lincoln Junior HS in DC, West Frederick Middle School, Frederick, MD and Folly Quarter Middle School and Glenelg HS, in Howard County, MD. Based on local demographics in these urban/rural areas, minority and disadvantaged youth, men and women, may choose science, mathematics, engineering and technology (SMET) careers with increasing frequency after participating, at such an early age, in specific learning in the quantitative disciplines. Many of these students take challenging courses within their schools, vastly improve their standardized test scores, take on internship opportunities, are provided recommendations from scientists and medical staff and ultimately are able to enter health professions that were previously unattainable. Relevance to Public Health: The Gains in the Education of Mathematis and Science (GEMS) program educates a diverse student population to benefit their science education and ultimately may improve the likelihood of successfully entry into a health or health-related professions for participating individuals. Medical education has been show to improve public health.
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