Salk Education Outreach


Ellen Potter: We’ve developed our outreach
programs to inspire young students, hopefully, to go into science, but also to be an educated
citizen within our community. It is going to be important that they understand this
information about technology in their lives, so we really feel it’s important as a mission
for the Salk to continuously educate both our students and the community at large. Dona Mapston: So one of the main goals of
the program is to increase science literacy, just among the public in general, and of course,
our students are going to be the forefront of that. They’re the ones who are going to
be our next generation of scientists, themselves, and our program allows students to see that
science is a real attainable profession for them. We bring our scientist volunteers into
the classroom, the students get to meet scientists, they get to talk to people who are doing those
careers, and see that, hey, that’s something they can picture themselves doing in the future. Laura Barker: I had a parent that came in
yesterday just to tell me that her daughter now wants to be a scientist because this has
really got her thinking and showed her that it can be fun, even though it’s also something
that makes a big difference in society. Ellen Potter: When we met with the San Diego
Office of Education along with other teachers, they encouraged us to develop programs for
the middle school because students’ interest in science seems to drop off. Dona Mapston: So middle school science often
relies solely on textbooks since the information is not readily accessible in hands-on format. Ellen Potter: Our landmark program, the Salk
Mobile Science Lab, goes out countywide and introduces middle school students to biotechnology. Dona Mapston: We actually take all of the
equipment that we’re going to be using for that day directly into a teacher’s classroom.
So we unload the boxes of equipment in the classroom, get everything set up so that we
are not pulling students out. We’re not pulling teachers away from their classroom, we’re
allowing teachers and students to see the hands-on science in their own setting. Terry Heck: The Salk Mobile Lab comes to us
in our own classroom. It’s all free. The kids just rave about what they’re doing and what
they’re learning. It’s wonderful. Katherine Ducharme: We feel very privileged
to be able to participate with this Mobile Lab, and I feel that all students should have
the ability to learn as my students have. Dona Mapston: One of the best parts is seeing
kids do that wonderful “ooh, yuck, that’s cool” reaction. Those are the things that
inspire students to think that science can be fun. Ellen Potter: The Salk Institute was founded
over 50 years ago by Jonas Salk, and he firmly believed it was important to bring scientists
together to collaborate, to inspire the next generation of scientists. And in that role,
he felt it was very important to bring young people here on the campus, and so, our high
school scholar program has had a long history. We have 10 students who come and work on our
campus over the summer with a paid internship, and they’re able to work one-on-one with our
scientists. Kirra Dickinson: It’s an awesome experience
for anyone who thinks they might be interested in science and research. Vron Vance: I didn’t realize that this was
something that could actually be accessible to me. Samantha Hartogs: This was definitely one
of the best summers of my life. I was able to work in a real research lab. Maegan Ledwith: I wouldn’t get this opportunity
anywhere else, especially just graduating high school. Aaron Steger: I’m just constantly amazed by
all the smart people that you continue to meet, and the atmosphere is definitely like
no other place. Ellen Potter: We are so inspired by these
students at the end of the summer. They can give a talk as good as any of our graduate
students and our research about why they’re doing what they’re doing in the lab, its importance,
and actually how they did it. Please, consider getting involved with the
education outreach program here at the Salk Institute.

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