Outreach

SEEK Program Molecular & Integrative Physiology University of Michigan

The science done in the department is critical to help understand the world we live in, in particular how organisms function in health and what goes wrong in disease. The pay-offs are knowledge and ultimately cures. Also crucial to our mission is to promote science in the community. Our trainees and faculty participate in a number of activities, including SEEK, Science Engagement and Education for Kids, which originated in MIP.

SEEK is a developing program that grew out of visits by Physiology PhD students to local elementary schools. Our students designed and led hands-on activities designed to introduce how the brain, heart, digestive, immune and breathing systems work. This program has grown at the grass-roots level through word-of-mouth and now has students participating from many programs at Michigan.

To provide elementary school students with a more enduring exposure to science, for the 2019-2020 academic year we incorporated more frequent, shorter visits to underserved schools to help prepare their students for the state’s M-STEP exams. This is a win-win: Michigan trainees get to make science a part of the curriculum for kids and also gain valuable teaching and communication skills.

There are multiple ways to be involved with SEEK.

Please contact seek.leadership@umich.edu with any questions or if you would like to be added to the general SEEK listserv or to specific listservs for any of the below activities! 

1. Year-long science curriculum: A group of graduate students developed a year-long curriculum that covers all the topics covered on the M-STEP. The lessons are self-contained and all materials (including a script) are included so interested volunteers will be able to teach any lesson. These lessons were designed to be given monthly in the 5th grade classrooms from mid-October - mid-April (~2 hours each session). 

FALL 2020 update

We are now working to adapt our curriculum and activities to a remote learning format to continue serving community students while adhering to COVID-19 related safety regulations. This will also allow us to extend remote lessons to additional schools. 

2. Half-day Physiology Fun Days: SEEK began by hosting half-day events that taught six organ systems through hands-on activities. Michigan graduate students designed 30-minute stations that focused on the cardiovascular, respiratory, nervous, gastrointestinal, immune, and cell systems. 3rd and 4th graders rotated through all the stations over the course of a half-day. These events are usually a half-day commitment each and occur two to three times per academic year.  

3. Neuroscience lessons using Backyard Brains (https://backyardbrains.com) kits: SEEK received a Michigan Medicine Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Mini Grant to purchase five Backyard Brains kits. These self-contained experiments are geared toward teaching elementary and middle school students about neuroscience through hands-on lessons. The lesson plans and materials are all provided within the kits to make the teaching easy. Volunteers lead the Backyard Brains initiative in 5th classrooms 1-2 times per year.

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