Seattle Children's Virtual Research Training Program: Pivoting to Remote Science Education for High School Students
Journal of STEM outreach
Seattle Children's Research Institute has built a series of in-person education programs to inspire and empower students to explore futures in biomedical research and healthcare. The COVID-19 pandemic prevented us from offering an in-person laboratory program, forcing a rapid pivot to an online format. The Virtual Research Training Program (VRTP) was a one-week summer experience for high school students, including students from groups that are under-represented in STEM. The curriculum
... topics such as biochemistry, immunology and immunotherapy, and global and public health. Also included were laboratory demonstrations to emphasize cutting-edge applications for healthcare and discussions regarding college and career preparation. Key challenges included converting the in-person curriculum into a digestible virtual format, becoming proficient with the technology to provide for a seamless end-user experience with equitable access, and establishing quantifiable metrics for evaluation. Students reported statistically significant gains with large effect sizes in knowledge about science concepts and laboratory procedures, and in preparation for college and future STEM careers. Students were also engaged by asking questions, indicating their active participation despite the online environment. This article discusses the adaptation of an in-person laboratory program into a virtual program as a potential model for increasing remote access to science education.