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Matchmaking for scientific outreach

Julie Manoharan

An online e-matching initiative that connects science professionals with teachers is proving to be a success, according to a new report.

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Science outreach programs with a community-based participatory approach—such as e-matching—are improving science curricula for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, according to a new report.

The report presents a case study that demonstrates how the National Lab Network (NLN)—a website that connects science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professionals with primary and secondary school teachers—has provided students at a New York high school a head start in science.

NLN is connecting students in under-resourced schools with science, technology, and math professionals.

“There is a huge disparity in under-resourced schools,” said Bernice Rumala, a NLN participant and a community-engagement specialist at Rockefeller University. “These students don’t have access to the same types of well-equipped labs and science technology that the resource-rich schools have.”

Through the NLN website, the New York high school teachers found and contacted STEM experts who have enhanced their students’ science curriculum. Similar success stories have also led to collaborations that give students hands-on science projects, presentations, courses, equipment, and mentoring. Programs have ranged from one-day interactive presentations to year-long integrated courses.

Because of this success, the NLN plans to expand its global initiative. “There are many students who are crying for help to receive science exposure, and may not know the opportunities available to them in the future,” said Rumala.


1. Rumala, B.B., J. Hidary, L. Ewool, C. Emdin, and T. Scovell. 2011. Tailoring Science Outreach through E-Matching Using a Community-Based Participatory Approach. PLoS Biol. 9:e1001026.

Keywords:  Science outreach