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Express Outreach Award Highlights: Bridging the Health Information Gap: Saturday Science Academy II and the Charles R. Drew University Health Sciences Library

by Delois C. Flowers, Outreach Librarian, and
Darlene Parker Kelly, Library Director
Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Health Sciences Library
Los Angeles, CA

One of the joys of librarianship is helping to shape the future of young people, by introducing information resources that are reliable, credible, and authoritative. The primary goal of our NN/LM PSR Express Outreach Award project, Bridging the Health Information Gap: Saturday Science Academy II and the Charles R. Drew University Health Sciences Library, was to promote the awareness and use of the National Library of Medicine’s consumer health resources to students, parents, and teachers. Our preliminary session began with the students of the Charles Drew University (CDU) Project Prep Program that is high school based, and attended by students as part of after-school initiatives promoting the health sciences. The training consists of students locating e-books, demonstrating the difference between Google and Google Scholar, and using MedlinePlus to identify at least two key resources that could be used to further their research interest.

iSTEM students collaborating on scientific posters

In late October, CDU Librarians launched the Bridging the Health Information Gap Information project with the Library’s participation in the Annual Saturday Science Academy (SSA) II 3K-5K Walk/Run and Health Fair. SSA II is one of the oldest pipeline programs in which CDU provides assistance with mathematics and science for students ages 4-18. It was great talking with the students and parents who have either used selected resources such as MedlinePlus and NIHSeniorHealth, or who welcomed the opportunity to learn more about these resources. It was truly heartwarming to hear from students and parents alike, who mentioned using NLM resources and remembered that the Library participated in this event in previous years.

Mid-way through the project, the schedule of the SSA II faced limitations which necessitated the identification of another CDU pipeline program to collaborate with, and the Library Director began a dialogue with the Integrated Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (iSTEM) Program Coordinator, Ms. Victoria Franklin. The iSTEM Scholars Program is relatively new to CDU and the focus of this program is the enhancement of educational opportunities, by creating innovative ways to engage students in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. A partnership was formed and a program was created which provided in-depth research training for their students on selected NLM resources. Students were introduced to a number of NLM’s consumer health resources, including MedlinePlus, ToxTown, Household Products Database, NIHSeniorHealth, and Genetics Home Reference. Students worked in teams of 3-5 people to first identify a topic, research the topic using the above-mentioned NLM resources, and then create a scientific poster on their topic.

Students learned how to search and locate reliable National Library of Medicine health information resources, learned how to develop scientific posters, and how to cite references. Some of the topics covered included air pollution, genetically modified foods, pneumonia, and noise pollution’s effects on health. The final portion of the project included students presenting their posters to their teachers, select iSTEM staff, and the Outreach Librarian. In addition, at the culminating ceremony of the iSTEM program, the Outreach Librarian exhibited student posters and students presented their research topics. The iSTEM Program Coordinator indicated that she will display the posters in the iSTEM program area. Overall, the project was a success and it was really impressive to see the students demonstrate their use of NLM resources and to discuss their findings!

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