Spotlight: Science Outreach

In November, faculty member Kathryn Campbell-Kibler and courtesy faculty member Laura Wagner (Dept. of Psychology) were awarded a three-year NSF grant to make the COSI Language Pod a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) site. Currently, as part of the Center of Science and Industry Labs in Life exhibit, the Buckeye Language Network is operating a laboratory pod in the museum. At the pod, COSI guests can watch experiments in progress, learn about linguistics and even take part in an experiment themselves.

Ohio State scholars (Depts. of Linguistics and Psychology, College of Teaching and Learning) have already developed a course to involve undergraduates in research at the pod: Science Education Outreach (5700). The REU grant will allow Campbell-Kibler and Wagner to extend that program substantially  by turning it into a paid internship through the summer. In addition to research, the program will also include a fair amount of classroom and outreach training. It is primarily targeted at local community college students and students from Ohio State regional campuses, but there will also be students from the Columbus campus and from out of state as well.

The program is 10 weeks long and the interns commit to 35 hours a week, and are paid $5,000 for the summer.  In the beginning, those hours are spent mostly in the classroom, with introductions to science outreach and to linguistics specifically.  Over time, student responsibilities ramp up to include doing outreach demos on the floor of the museum and also working in the lab as research assistants for their faculty mentors.  Says Campbell-Kibler, “We were a little afraid we wouldn’t even get 10 applications, since this was our first year, but we ended up with 102 applicants, so that was exciting and a bit staggering."

Keeta Jones (Linguistics) will be the graduate assistant, and undergraduate Crystal Sloane will also assist.

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