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VINSE - Vanderbilt Institute of Nanoscale Science and Engineering

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K-12 Outreach

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VINSE Outreach 

High School Field Trip Program: VINSE high school field trip program brings ~20 science classes from across Middle Tennessee high schools to Vanderbilt for a day. Students learn to make solar cells out of blackberry juice and paint pigment and measure the electrical power produced. Small groups of 20 students attend for the daylong field trip to get hands-on experience in science and technology. The students mash blackberries, extract their juice, soak an electrode in the juice, coat another electrode with graphite and clip them together to make a solar cell.  After the solar cells are finished, the students get to measure the amount of electricity that each produce to see whose cells performs the best.  Students also examine the material that they used to make the solar cells with the scanning electron microscope. Over 800 students from 36 schools have participated in the VINSE field trip program. Volunteers: Volunteers are needed to be lead TA or assist during the wet lab, time commitment is ½ to full day. 

VSVS & VINSE Rural: VINSE has partnered with the longstanding Vanderbilt Student Volunteers for Science (VSVS), a service organization at Vanderbilt University composed of undergraduate, graduate, and medical students who are committed to bringing inquiry-based, hands-on science lessons to middle-school students. Graduate students volunteering in metro schools are placed on a team of 3-4 who teach 4 different lessons in the same classroom each semester.  Volunteers: Volunteers should expect the time commitment to be 8 hours per semester. Graduate students can also volunteer to give VSVS lessons in rural counties, which would require 2 visits per semester. The time commitment expected is 8 hours which includes travel time.  Lessons start at various times 7:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each Monday-Friday, so you can easily fit VSVS into your schedule. 

VSVS & VINSE Rural Teacher Training:  VINSE in partnership with Vanderbilt Student Volunteers for Science (VSVS) offer a STEM outreach program to rural counties for grades 6th-8th.  The VSVS program has developed middle-school lessons that fit in Tennessee Curriculum Standards, these lessons have been used in Davidson County since 1994.  Each hands-on science lesson includes background materials, a prepared presentation for teacher/students, all materials for the hands-on activity and student worksheets that can be copied and modified.  Our mission is to take these materials to rural middle Tennessee Schools. Participating teachers in each grade will be able to select 4 lessons for the fall curriculum and 4 lessons for the spring. Kits are returned to Vanderbilt at the end of each semester to be refurbished. Teachers are required to attend a one-day training session at Vanderbilt in the fall and in the spring to train on each of the lessons selected for their classroom.  Since starting in 2012 we have worked with 76 teachers in 7 counties, distributing supplies for over 700 classrooms.  We are currently partnered with the following schools:

  • Bedford County – Harris Middle School
  • Dickson County - Charlotte Middle School, Dickson County Middle School, William James Middle School 
  • Giles County - Bridgeforth Middle School 
  • Lawrence County - Davy Crocket Elementary, Ethridge Elementary 
  • Macon County – Macon County Middle School
  • Robertson County – Coopertown Middle School, East Robertson High School, Greenbrier Middle School, Jo Byrns High School, Springfield Middle School, White House Heritage
  • Rutherford County – Rock Springs Middle School

Summer Academy:  VINSE is also actively involved with the Vanderbilt Summer Academy (VSA).  VSA is a two week residential program in nanoscience and nanotechnology for 21 gifted high school students (rising 8th-12th) who have expressed an interest in nanoscience and nanotechnology.  The program is part lecture and part hands-on. In addition to nanoscience experiments (e.g. nanocrystal synthesis) the program includes tours of the equipment in VINSE with demonstration and discussions on their operation and application. VINSE offers scholarships for at need Tennessee students that fit into at least 2 of the following 4 categories: minority, female, first generation college, or lives in rural community.  To apply for the scholarship, contact the Program for Talented Youth.  Volunteers: This nanoscience summer camp is led by VINSE faculty with VINSE graduate students helping out as teaching assistants.  Volunteers should expect ½ day commitment.

Rural Classroom Visits: The Vanderbilt Institute of Nanoscale Science and Engineering along with the Vanderbilt/Fisk chapter of the Materials Research Society have recently developed a number of outreach programs geared towards advancing STEM education in rural Tennessee. The newest program, Materials Outreach for Rural Education (MORE) brings science kits to rural county middles schools. The MORE program is looking for volunteers for a variety of roles. These include lesson leaders, kit developers, and coordinators to schedule visits with the various teachers. 

For more information about VINSE outreach contact: Sarah Satterwhite.