The Graduate School at The University of Texas at Austin recognizes the importance of supporting graduate students' outreach efforts. The 'Present your Ph.D. Thesis to a 12 year-old' project is one example of graduate students making an extraordinary impact on society. What Starts Here, Changes the World.
About the Project
The UT Graduate Science Outreach student group was founded by a group of doctoral students, at the Institute for Cell and Molecular Biology at The University of Texas at Austin, who were looking for new ways to make a difference in science education at the local level.
Science Doctoral students at UT Austin have conducted this new outreach program in which they present a simplified version of their Ph.D. thesis in kindergarten through 12th grade classrooms.
The outcome is a process for emerging scientists to relate their discoveries with K-12 students, while providing real-world examples that will complement science topics covered in a classroom.
Volunteers | A volunteer organization of graduate students, run by graduate students.
Increasing Participation | Following a success presenting the theses in middle school classrooms during the 2010-2011 school year, the number of graduate students presenting and the number of participating schools, have increased.
Expanding | Expansion, which encompasses any Ph.D. thesis, is on the horizon for this project. Posters of the outreach program have been presented to graduate students and scientists at two scientific meetings in an effort to find people who would like to initiate a similar program at their school.
Raise Awareness | Increasing awareness and interest in academic research for students of all ages.
In this program there are two types of volunteers.
Presenters | Enliven the discovery of how to introduce their Ph.D. thesis to a broad audience.
Organizers | Initiate and facilitate Ph.D.-thesis lecture series within their communities.
Organizers are Autonomous
Community Relations | Each organizer is free to develop a lecture series at any school who is interested in the program and to any age group they feel most comfortable. A key component of this outreach program is to give organizers experience in initiating and developing ongoing relationships in their community.
Recruit Lecturers | Another feature of an organizer is to be able create enthusiasm for educational outreach among their peers. Therefore organizers should recruit some new graduate students for their lecture series.
Each organizer will initially introduce their series at the school by giving a presentation relating the concepts of what a Ph.D. thesis is as well as what a being a graduate student in their specialty undergoes.
The Presentation | Presenters develop a talk on their Ph.D. thesis.
Each presentation should last approximately 20 minutes long, including 5 minutes for questions. Presenters are encouraged to view past presentations and work with their organizer and other members of their lecture series to help develop an effective and age appropriate talk.
Scorecards are used as a means to gauge the presenter's clarity and accessible functionality with the group. Before a classroom presentation Presenters should hand these out to the students and collect them at the end of their talk.