"As for the future, your task is not to foresee, but to enable it."- The Wisdom of the Sands, Antoine de Saint-Exupery
From a modest start, Base Pair has exerted a significant, positive influence over science education, locally in the Jackson Metro area, throughout the state of Mississippi, regionally in the southeast and nationally through conferences, workshops, and presentations. It is a 25-year-old collaboration of UMMC with Mississippi public and private high schools for STEM education and health career development. It uses individual mentorship to promote student entry into health sciences professions, enhance teacher professionalism and implement science curriculum reform.
Initiated in 1992, Base Pair's core element is a biomedical research mentorship program that pairs faculty UMMC with high school students and educators from Murrah High School in the Jackson Public School District (JPSD).
Teacher professional development and science curriculum enhancement activities have complemented the student participation to create a highly coordinated impetus for science education reform that has generated two innovative, teacher-initiated corollary programs, the Rural Biomedical Initiative (RBI) and the Student Oriented Academic Research (SOAR).
The Base Pair biomedical research mentorship component at Murrah has trained 199 students to date. Over a period of two years, each student can gain up to two Carnegie credits toward graduation by participation in Base Pair. Base Pair participants have a 100% high school graduation rate (vs. ~81% nationally) and 99% college entrance. While in the program, these students have co-authored and/or presented in formal scientific forums approximately 350 published abstracts, research posters and published manuscripts.
The SOAR and RBI curricula are delivered as part of educational programs at schools across central Mississippi. Overall, 2,376 students have been directly trained by the SOAR and RBI components. To date, 29 students from the program have developed science fair projects of sufficient quality to become finalists in the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF).
Teacher professional development has directly involved 145 teachers during Summer Research Institute (SRI) training. Outcomes from this component include teacher-authored citations and teacher-initiated applications for external funding, of which 122 of the 157 grant proposals known to have been submitted have been funded for a 78% success rate. This has brought $569,434 in new funds for individual teacher classroom use. In addition, it has supported teachers with extraordinary vision and purpose, who have spearheaded Base Pair outreach expansion.
Both the SOAR and RBI programs were the result of individual teacher initiative. An RBI Lead Teacher at Enterprise High School has developed an innovative and engaging "Wolbachia Rodeo" format featuring student collection and analysis of DNA to a Wolbachia bacterial genetic database housed at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory. Base Pair-trained teachers have also delivered training workshops at local, regional and national educational meetings, reaching hundreds of additional educators and thus influencing many thousands of students indirectly.