NetSci High is an NSF-funded educational outreach program connecting high school students who are underrepresented in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics), and their teachers, with regional university research labs. The program provides students the opportunity to work with researchers and graduate student mentors on team-based, year-long network science research projects, culminating in a formal presentation at a network science conference.
During the academic year, graduate student mentors from partner research labs together with high school teacher mentors guide the student teams in developing their research project. Students engage in data collection, data mining, data processing, and computational network modeling and analysis to discover answers to their specific research questions. The projects represent the interdisciplinary nature of network science and its ability to draw students of all interests into STEM fields. Student-driven research projects include:
- A Network Analysis of Foreign Aid Based on Bias of Political Ideologies
- Comparing Two Human Disease Networks: Gene-Based and Symptom-Based Perspectives
- Influence at the 1787 Constitutional Convention
- Quantifying Similarity of Benign and Oncogenic Viral Proteins Using Amino Acid Sequence
- Quantification of Character and Plot in Contemporary Fiction
- RedNet: A Different Perspective of Reddit
- Tracking Tweets for the Superbowl
Student teams culminate their year-long experience through joint activities with the next class of students at the summer workshop. Student teams present their research projects in a conference setting, offer personal tips to new student teams, with keynote lectures by leading experts in the network science community.
The NetSci High program has garnered scholarships for student participants, fostered student-authored publications in peer-reviewed journals, and supported student teams in presenting research posters at the International NetSci conferences in Budapest, Hungary; Chicago, Illinois; Berkeley, California; and New York City. We look forward to furthering data and network science literacy through scaling student research opportunities, broader teacher training, and connecting K-12 to undergraduate education, science research and public outreach.
The short paper, published in the Proceedings of CompleNet 2015: The 6th International Workshop on Complex Networks, reports the content and materials that we have developed to date, including lesson plans and tools for introducing high school students and teachers to network science and the process of scientific research; empirical evaluation data on the effect of participation on students’ motivation and interest in pursuing STEM careers; the application of professional development materials for teachers that are intended to encourage them to use network science concepts in their lesson plans and curriculum; promoting district-level interest and engagement; best practices gained from our experiences; and the future goals for this project and its subsequent outgrowth.
For more information, visit: NetSci High Student Groups Google Site
Funding for NetSci High was provided by the National Science Foundation’s Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers program (ITEST) (Award # 1139478/1139482)