College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

School kids, Iowa State graduate students teach each other lessons in science

Symbi is known as “Iowa’s GK-12 Program.” It’s the only program of its kind in the state. It’s part of a National Science Foundation effort to put graduate students studying science, technology, engineering and math into K-12 classrooms. And it’s a chance for Iowa State students to inspire school students and their teachers with the excitement and importance of science, engineering and university research, said Basil Nikolau, Iowa State’s Frances M. Craig Professor of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology and the leader of the grant proposal that launched Symbi.

Once a week, the program sends its selected graduate students to participating Des Moines secondary schools for an entire school day. They work with classroom teachers as resident scientists and engineers.

Symbi has one overarching goal for all that classroom activity, said Adah Leshem, the director of Symbi and pre-college education programs for the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Biorenewable Chemicals based at Iowa State. That’s for graduate students to learn how to communicate their scientific research to non-scientists.

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