A partnership between a community college biology professor and a local high school teacher was established to engage high school students in authentic microbiology research. High school students isolated actinomycetes from soil samples and tested them for their ability to produce antimicrobial chemicals. They also designed and carried out their own experiments with these isolates. Laboratory reports, written assignments, and quizzes were used to assess the scientific learning of the subject covered by the research project. The students' attitudes about science and scientific research were assessed using a standardized survey and written reflection questions. In completing this project, the students applied their knowledge of the scientific method and experimental design to address authentic research questions. They also learned several hands-on laboratory skills, including serial dilution, aseptic technique, isolation of pure cultures, Gram staining, microscopy, and antimicrobial testing. Student feedback was overwhelmingly positive – many expressed an increased interest in pursuing a career in science, and most felt that the project helped them gain confidence in their ability to do science. This project illustrates the importance of establishing partnerships between secondary schools and academic institutions to successfully introduce research to younger students.

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