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Mississippi Delta MSEA Volume 4, Issue 1, Page 1, First Semester 1998
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Volume 4, Issue 1, Page 1, Fisrt Semester 1998

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MSEA Reporter Archive


Making great STRIDEs with local schools

This summer ten teachers from Sunflower, Leflore, and Washington counties, and twenty-two of their academically-talented students, participated in the first of three summer institutes funded by the National Science Foundation. Student and Teacher Research Institute - the Delta Experience: Targeting Mississippi Schools and the Environment (STRIDE) is a cooperative effort between the Mississippi Delta Management Systems Evaluation Area project (MDMSEA) and Mississippi State University. Designed to introduce research methodology to middle school teachers and students by working side-by-side with MDMSEA scientists on existing projects, the student and teacher teams assist with different aspects of research from collecting and recording data to analysis. The thirty-two individuals who participated in STRIDE this summer will be the leaders in their classrooms and will teach scientific processes to other students and teachers at their schools.

During the four-week institute, participants conducted research at Deep Hollow Lake, Beasley Lake and Thighman Lake on real-life research projects. In addition to working at these watersheds, they also worked with scientists in Oxford at the USDA-ARS National Sedimentation Laboratory and the University of Mississippi. Teams members also traveled to Pearl to work with scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey. In Stoneville, STRIDE participants assisted scientists at the USDA facilities, the Delta Branch of MAFES, the USDA Wildlife Services, and the Yazoo Mississippi Delta Joint Water Management District.

Participants also spent four days on the Mississippi State University campus, working with scientists from the Forest Products Laboratory, the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, the Department of Industrial Engineering, the Diagnostic Instrumentation and Analysis Laboratory, and the College of Veterinary Medicine. Presentations on conducting ethical research were made to the group by the Human Subject Regulatory Officer, Radiological Safety Officer, and the Laboratory Animal Regulatory Officer.

Co-directors at Mississippi State University for the project are Jonathan Pote of the Mississippi Water Resources Research Institute and MDMSEA project, Giselle Thibaudeau of the Department of Biological Sciences, Taha Mzoughi of Physics, Lynn Prewitt of the Forest Products Laboratory, and Sandra Harpole of the Center for Science, Mathematics, and Technology. Project Coordinators are Frank Gwin, Jr. of the MDMSEA project and Jean Bailey of the Center for Science, Mathematics, & Technology.

Assessment of the project by the student and teacher teams has been very favorable. One student commented: ?Even though it was hot, I had a great time and learned a lot.? Another student said, ?I enjoyed myself and I wish I could participate next year.? Team members plan to incorporate what they learned this summer in their schools. One student plans to demonstrate water filtration to his classmates and one teacher states that she plans to take her class back to Deep Hollow Lake in order to develop a water quality project for the next school year. One of the teachers commented about her four-week experience: ?My thanks to all for a neat ?Delta Experience?. I met so many nice people during the four weeks. And I discovered something new each day.?

More than fourteen agencies and nearly fifty researchers contribute to making STRIDE a success. I appreciate the time, effort, and commitment by the scientists to improving education in the Delta. I would like to thank the farmers who so graciously allow the students, teachers and STRIDE staff to have access to the MDMSEA research sites. I also appreciate the help of Superintendents James Smith, Irvin Whitaker, and Cass Pennington, as well as the principals from the Washington, Leflore, and Sunflower counties public and private schools, who assisted with the recruitment and selection of teacher and student participants. And special thanks to Frank Gwin, Jr. for the many hours he spent in planning and coordinating all the events. He made certain that thirty-two participants, fifty scientists, and the STRIDE directors were in the right place at the right time on the right day.

During the 1998-99 academic year, project staff and scientists will meet with the 1998 participants to implement research plans in the classroom. Future plans also include four independent meetings with teachers, students, and scientists in follow-up sessions. There will also be a banquet in the spring for the 1998 participants, parents, and research scientists. Students will prepare poster sessions for display at the banquet. Input from those who participated in the 1998 STRIDE program will be incorporated in the planning of the 1999 institute. I am looking forward to next summer and the 1999 STRIDE summer program.

Sandra H. Harpole,
Ed.D., Director
Ctr. for Science, Math., & Technology
Professor of Physics
Mississippi State University
P. O. Box 6347
Mississippi State, MS 39762
Fax: 601-325-8898
Web site:

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MSEA Reporter Archive