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Paper No. 10
Presentation Time: 4:10 PM


MORRIS, Penny A., Natural Science, University of Houston-Downtown, 1 Main St, Houston, TX 77002, AUSTIN, Shermane, Department of Physical, Environmental and Computer Sciences, Medgar Evers College, Brooklyn, NY 11225, IDOWU, Ayorinde, Dept of Natural Science, University of Houston-Downtown, 1 Main St, Houston, TX 77002, JOHNSON, Leon, Medgar Evers College, City University of New York, Brooklyn, NY 11225, MUSSELWHITE, Donald, Natural Science, University of Houston-Downtown, Dept of Natural Science, 1 Main St, Houston, TX 77002 and WALTER, Donald K., South Carolina State University, Orangeburg, SC 29117,

A collaboration of minority universities, MUCESS, are incorporating hands-on, inquiry based research projects to attract undergraduate students to participate in weather balloon based atmospheric research projects. None of the three MUCESS institutions (University of Houston-Downtown-UHD, South Carolina State University-SCSU, and Medgar Evers College, City University of New York-MEC have geoscience programs. Initially only one institution, MEC, had a balloon program, however with the support of the collaboration and funding from NSF all three have programs. One strength of the program is that it is relatively inexpensive as compared to many biology research projects and it has the potential for attracting students who may prefer outdoor activities and problem solving in contrast to undergraduate cook book style laboratory activities. A second strength is that it provides an introduction to the geosciences through alternative academic programs.

The gender diversity among the student participants appears to be partially influenced by the programs that the students are studying at their home institutions. UHD has had success recruiting female students, most of whom are biological and physical science majors, SCSU recruits from their medical physics program and MEC recruits from their computer science majors.

The research program follows traditional undergraduate research protocols, but is different as there are intensive, 3 day yearly workshops that rotate among the institutions. The audience is limited, usually 16-20 students with multiple faculty present to guide the students. The workshops bring together students from different geographical regions, creates an atmosphere of team work that has similarities with real-life work scenarios, and includes lectures on the subject. This is probably the most important part as students who participate tend to stay in the research program for multiple semesters. The students work long hours, but feeding them, and an end of the workshop dinner helps cement the team work activities.

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