As an extension of Upward Bound Math/Science (UBMS), we have developed a summer mentoring program in which graduate students work in a small group setting with high school students to develop individual research projects. This program provides UBMS students with the opportunity to explore their own interests in science under the guidance of our neuroscience graduate students.
The “Research Fridays” program complements the lecture component of Upward Bound by encouraging independent thought, creativity, scientific inquiry, and the development of organizational skills. Students learn how to generate a hypothesis, conduct research, maintain a formal record of their data, and formulate conclusions. The project culminates in a poster presentation that synthesizes the weekly assignments into one coherent project evaluated in by graduate mentors. Students are encouraged to focus on developing their interests and critical thinking skills, rather than the acquisition of specific classroom content. This is a unique and exciting opportunity that provides the students with hands-on scientific experience, just as they would experience in college science courses and careers.
Furthermore, “Research Fridays” allow our graduate mentors to experience teaching in a more intimate, free flowing setting that emphasizes the mentor-mentee relationship. There are five total Friday sessions from the end of June until the end of July, and mentors are encouraged to attend as many of these (at least three) as possible. This is a rich and rewarding challenge, providing the opportunity to create meaningful connections and make a difference in the development of the next generation of scientists.