At the ASBMB Opening Reception, posters were showcasing successful science outreach projects. One in particular caught my eye. It was surrounded by several kids who looked like they were from middle school.
This was made possible by the Aspirnaut Program at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The program links rural communities with the vast scientific resources of Vanderbilt University. The goal is to stimulate young students by helping to increase their knowledge and skills in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). “Every job requires some form of STEM education,” says Billy Hudson, co-founder of the Asprinaut Initiative. The Aspirnaut Program has successfully launched participating students through high school with many continuing to take STEM-related courses or majors in college. By bringing cutting-edge research and equipment to students who might otherwise have never had such an opportunity, the Aspirnaut program is successfully increasing the number of future generations of Americans in the research workforce.
To date, the Aspirnaut program has set-up successful collaborations in 7 states with over 15 participating elementary, middle and high schools.