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Express Outreach Award Highlights: Kids in Technology and Sciences

by Sophia Prisco, MLIS
Health Sciences Librarian
American University of Health Sciences
Signal Hill, CA

In the spring of 2012, an NN/LM PSR Express Outreach Award funded the Kids in Technology and Science (KITS) outreach program, which allows American University of Health Sciences (AUHS) nursing and pharmacy students to facilitate health literacy workshops at Kettering Elementary School. The goals of the KITS outreach project are to promote NLM resources, increase health awareness, and encourage careers in the health sciences. The program also aims to strengthen the role of librarians in the delivery of health information.

A third-grade student answers a question in a Personal and Community Health workshop

From May 2012 until April 2013, AUHS provided workshops for four different third-grade classes. Each class had a series of four workshops on topics such as growth and development, injury prevention, safety and first aid, personal and community health, and library & health care resources. The workshops were led by AUHS students, and included a lecture and hands-on activities. To evaluate student learning, the third-graders were given an oral quiz before and after the workshop. Each workshop introduced a different health care career such as nursing, pharmacy, medical librarian, or researcher. Each workshop included NLM resources, either incorporated into the lecture and/or disseminated through handouts.

The third-graders were genuinely excited with each workshop and were very interested in the AUHS student visitors. The third-grade classrooms averaged 25-27 students, ages 8 to 9 years old. The third-grade students were engaged throughout the lectures and asked lots of appropriate and insightful questions. When I gave a talk on the different types of librarians and their roles, the third-graders asked questions such as: how long do you have to go to school to be a librarian, what is your favorite part about being a librarian, and why did you choose to become a librarian? By the questions that they were asking, it was apparent that all of the students were thinking critically about the information being presented.

A 3rd grader's germs are illuminated in an activity about disease prevention and healthy practices

KITS also gave AUHS students a unique opportunity to work with children. The first half of the KITS project used AUHS student volunteers, while the second half was comprised of students from a clinical Community Health class. The Community Health class divided the students and assigned them to different workshops making it mandatory for each student in the class to participate. All of the AUHS students had successful involvement and some were surprised that the experience altered their decisions about their nursing career paths. One such student had such a positive experience that he decided to pursue pediatric nursing.

The AUHS librarian plans on expanding the KITS program to other local elementary schools. The NN/LM PSR Express Outreach Award allowed the KITS program to purchase reusable supplies, which can be used for continuing KITS programs. AUHS is located near Long Beach, one of California’s most diverse cities. The librarian is uniquely positioned to facilitate programs such as KITS to reach out to minority and special needs students in the community.

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