Hiram College
ISLS Academy, Summer 2014

ISLS Academy, Summer 2014

Three Hiram College students are taking their research to a national stage, as they present alongside Professor of Biology Denny Taylor on Capitol Hill this weekend.

Environmental studies major Courtney Freyhauf ’15, of Macedonia; biology major Robin Singleton ’15, of York, Pa.; and biomedical humanities major Ryan Zittel ’16, of Sheboygan, Wis., all worked with Taylor this summer, as Hiram College hosted a group of Pakistani high school students, partnered in a learning community with local high schoolers, for the 2014 Igniting Streams of Learning in Science (ISLS) STEM Academy pilot program. Together they explored Cleveland, Hiram, Washington D.C. and Chincoteague Island, Va., to explore fresh water flow and the fresh water crisis. Their findings will be presented at the National Center for Science & Civic Engagement Washington Symposium and Poster Session, from Sept. 28-30, 2014 in Washington, D.C.

Beyond understanding the water crisis, Taylor and his undergraduate researchers wanted to see if peers from Pakistan and America could create positive and beneficial relations. The ISLS STEM Academy wants to inspire students to see the potential and build international collaborations.

Taylor said he hopes that this project will be a jumping off point for “how we think about our relationships with each other and our relationships with the world,  and breaking down these walls that have artificially come up.”

Under Taylor’s direction, undergraduates took a leading role in running the summer academy. Singleton said having undergraduates run the program was beneficial not only to them but to the high school students involved.

“The difference between us putting this together instead of doing what we were told and acting as camp counselors was huge,” she said. “We didn’t just learn the science behind this project, but the protocols for putting something like this together as well. And being closer in age than Denny and the others involved was beneficial because we have a slightly better understanding of how high school students want to learn, and we can relate to them.”

In addition to building international relations, the academy hopes to inspire the high school students to start taking ownership and action at a local level as they begin to understand how much the fresh water crisis can affect them. Based on the success, another goal is to take this pilot program and expand it into something bigger, with more schools and countries.

Taylor said it’s an honor to be presenting, as few undergraduates are presenting reports as part of the symposium.

To learn more about the project and the presentation visit the ISLS Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ISLS2014), the official website for the project (http://www.islsohio.org/) and the website for the conference (http://www.sencer.net/Symposia/dcsymposium2014.cfm). Other students involved with the summer academy include biomedical humanities and biology major Logan Brewer ’15 and William DeCardenas, of the University of Akron.

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