We are proud to work in collaboration with the
American Association of University Women
(AAUW) to provide hands on summer research
experience to 8th grade girls. PhD student Emily
Abbott (pictured) has been leading groups
of students in running simple experiments to
show how our muscles respond to an increase in load. For these experiments, she has used surface recordings of muscle activity (EMG) to show how the intensity of the electrical signal in a muscle increases when we lift increasingly heavier weights. The experiments provide an intuitive way of understanding how our nervous system regulates muscle force.
Broadening stem participation
Kids are inherently interested in the natural world. We
have partnered with Naples Elementary School in
Long Beach California to develop fun exercises that
channel this curiosity to form and test hypotheses.
PhD student Crystal Reynaga (pictured), a proud
alumni of Naples Elementary, has initiated this
partnership and has developed exercises for 2nd and
3rd grade classrooms that aim to answer questions like
“why are a frog’s legs so long”? and “how far could I jump if I were a frog”? These exercises allow students to measure frog legs and learn about the importance of scale, size and shape. We utilize slow motion videos of jumping frogs and colorful cleared and stained frog specimens to keep the students engaged. We are working on expanding our partners to bring exercises focused on organismal biology to other schools.
High school science curriculum
Recently developed science standards in California have
placed an increasingly greater emphasis on interdisciplinary
lesson plans. The PI has been developing a lesson plan
entitled “Biological Springs”. The lesson plan brings together
two topics included in the California Science Standards (CST).
The state standards for Biological Sciences include a section on physiology (#9) where students are introduced to the function and contraction of muscles. State standards for Physics include a significant section dealing with Newtonian mechanics including forces and motion (#1) and the conservation of energy (#2). The PI is working on a short video lecture on the topic which will precede an active learning exercise using computer simulations. The lecture and the simulations are currently being developed and will be available for free download by any science instructor.
S.U.R.F. (Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship)
In this NSF funded program we've partnered with the UC Irvine Graduate Division and Cal Sate San Bernardino (minority serving institution) to offer summer undergraduate research fellowships. This program offers upper division undergraduate, and continuing master's students the opportunity to conduct research in the Azizi lab. Participants are part of a larger fellowship program aimed at students planning to pursue a PhD. In addittion to research, students attend GRE test preparation courses and take the GRE exam in August. Workshops and seminars also focus on strategies to improve the likelihood of success in applying to graduate school. The broad goal of this program is to increase diversity among successful PhD applicants.