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Laxman Mainali leads community outreach

Laxman Mainali, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Biomolecular Sciences graduate programs, is collaborating with Teen Science Cafes to connect Boise State biomolecular sciences graduate students with teens while increasing science literacy about Mainali’s research with membrane cholesterol biophysics.

Mainali’s STEM outreach efforts address the National Science Foundation’s emphasis on high impact teaching practices and broader impacts. Using service-learning techniques to integrate STEM outreach into his graduate level course, Mainali’s teaching approach is extending student learning outcomes to include preparing students to:

– design outreach activities and communicate about science and cholesterol to a lay audience, and develop self-confidence when communicating with an audience

– explain the need to increase STEM literacy, the STEM pipeline, and STEM opportunities for underrepresented minorities

– explain the role of broader impacts and STEM outreach as part of an NSF grant.

– explain how STEM outreach helped students gain a broader appreciation of molecular biophysics

Mainali’s efforts have been supported by the Service-Learning Program and the Institute for Inclusive and Transformative Scholarship. An active collaborator, Megan Gambs from IFTS is coaching graduate students in effective STEM outreach techniques. Gambs facilitated BMOL students sharing their outreach activities with teens remotely through the Teen Science Cafe of the Treasure Valley program on Nov. 4.

Mainali’s method of integrating teaching, research, and service demonstrates how STEM outreach projects, when effectively designed and integrated into a course, can enhance and extend the learning in graduate research courses and enhance faculty NSF grant possibilities.