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Your Environment. Your Health.

Duke SRP Trainee Engages Students with Environmental Research at Career Day

Duke University Superfund Research Program post-doctoral trainee Alexis Wells Carpenter, Ph.D., spoke with approximately 75 Durham Public School students in October during Burton Magnet Elementary’s career day. Burton Magnet Elementary focuses on developing its students’ global perspective and inquiry skills. Carpenter discussed with third through fifth grade students what research is and what it means to do research as a career. She told them about doing research as a chemist and led an activity about nanomaterials in consumer products.

Alexis Wells Carpenter at career day

Carpenter (left) stays after the session to answer additional questions from students at career day.
(Photo courtesy of Alexis Wells Carpenter)

Over the course of a morning, Carpenter spoke with small groups of students about environmental health research and why scientists do research in the field of environmental health. Based on her own research exploring exposures to nanomaterials in consumer products, she then had students guess which everyday consumer products contain nanomaterials. The students remained engaged throughout the activity and enjoyed learning about the science.

“My contact at Burton Magnet Elementarywrote inquiring about whether someone could join them for the career day,” said Eileen Thorsos, Duke SRP Research Translation Core (RTC) Coordinator. “Because I knew Alexis Wells Carpenter was interested in elementary outreach, I immediately invited her to present.”

The Duke RTC reaches out to students and educators to enhance interest in careers in science and to amplify the impact of outreach to the educators' classrooms, especially in the environmental health field.

The Duke SRP RTC staff also recently worked with the Elizabeth River Project , near the Superfund site in Virginia, to develop content and materials for the Elizabeth River Project's Learning Barge and for fourth grade classrooms.  Hundreds of elementary school students visit the learning barge each year on a field trip, and the materials supplement their activities once they return to the classroom.

The goal of the Duke RTC is to communicate research results from the Duke SRP to multiple audiences in a timely fashion using tailored formats appropriate to the audience.

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