LSU Students Mentor the World’s Next Scientists
BATON ROUGE - Sharing a love for science, LSU students are mentoring Baton Rouge-area high school students through a program called EnvironMentors. EnvironMentors is a science-based mentoring program created by the National Council for Science and Environment. The volunteer, after-school program pairs economically disadvantaged high school students with graduate students for a year-long environmental science research project. Their goal is to support and strengthen high school students’ success in science and environmental fields. A select group of students are chosen from Scotlandville Magnet High School to work with the LSU students.
“The goal of the program is to give real, hands-on experience in scientific experiments that are chosen by the students and mentors,” said Byron Ebner, who is pursuing a master’s degree at LSU in oceanography. “I joined the EnvironMentors to get experience working with students and to attempt to impart some of the knowledge that I have gained over the years.”
The EnvironMentors and high school students meet weekly during the school year, working on different projects. Together, they work on science experiments and the high school students also select a topic for a research project. Chapter Coordinator Brian Matherne said the high school students gain confidence through presenting their projects. In addition to these hands-on experiences, the group participates in educational field trips and a competition where top students present their research to a national audience.
“This is to get the students into the scientific mindset by having them complete fun assignments. For instance, there was one assignment where they had to classify different types of candy through the characteristics that they thought were important. More recently we have been meeting with LeAnne (his assigned high school student) to discuss our own project studying the effects of ocean acidification on dissolution of carbonate and silica,” Ebner said.
In December, some of the high school students presented their projects at AGU, the American Geophysical Union conference in New Orleans.
“This program is an opportunity for LSU students to get real experience working with students, which is valuable for those who lack teaching experience,” said Ebner. “Even if these students do not want to pursue a career in the sciences, it gives them a taste of collegiate life and an opportunity to conduct real research of their choosing.”
The LSU EnvironMentor chapter is hosted by LSU’s College of the Coast & Environment. It is 100 percent donor funded, including support from the Louisiana SeaGrant.
Contact Rachel Spangenthal
LSU Media Relations