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051 | How Universities Can Better Engage K-12 Students Through Community Outreach | with Jamie Shuda

Today we’re talking about a critical piece of the educational landscape that we haven’t really touched on in previous episodes: how university faculty can leverage their expertise to craft programming that gives back to students and the local community (and, inversely, how teachers can bring effective college programs and faculty into their classrooms).

This sort of public outreach and engagement can be transformative for young students, offering perspective on subjects and careers that they might not even know exist — but bridging the gap between primary school classrooms and post-secondary faculty and programs can be rather difficult, to put it mildly. K-12 teachers are always looking for interesting new things to show students, and the individuals working on research projects within universities are usually excited to share what they are working on, but there’s not always a person who knows how to make that information accessible and engaging to students.

Our guest today, however, has been bridging that gap since 2002. Jamie Shuda is a former elementary school teacher who now serves as the Director of Outreach and Education for the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The flagship program for her outreach is BioEYES, a K-12 science education program that aims to foster enthusiasm for science by offering students opportunities to explore life science through real-world applications using a hands-on approach to learning.

Over 175,000 students have participated in BioEYES since 2002 — but Jamie is just getting started, and we know that there are other university programs around the country that could make a tremendous impact on their communities with her insight.

We unbox:

  1. Common misunderstandings around the work that classroom teachers are willing, able, and interested in bringing into their classrooms

  2. The difficulty of finding what’s being researched in your local universities — and then the added difficulty of making that information accessible to young students!

  3. How Jamie has successfully helped other university programs bridge the gap to local communities or students

  4. How to make opportunities for students accessible and equitable to different kinds of students

  5. It’s not enough to say I want to engage the community in my three-year grant. From an institutional perspective, it’s important to think about how to build sustainable partnerships and what that really looks like.

  6. Where teachers can start today: finding graduate student groups or postdoctoral organizations and asking if they’re willing to do something with your class.



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