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As science and engineering librarians at Wright State University Libraries, we work with the traditional user groups of teaching faculty, research faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students. In recent years a new user group has been getting our attention: middle school science students who are guests of the College of Science & Mathematics' outreach program. Each December, area middle school students participate in "Exploring Science" - a half-day of workshops intended to help "tomorrow's scientists today." Faculty and students from the college provide hands-on workshops in chemistry, biology, anatomy, mathematics, geology, environmental sciences, psychology, engineering, and neuroscience; the University Libraries offer a workshop in finding and evaluating information. We have developed a module which guides the young visitors to use electronic resources to create "Wanted" posters for deadly bacteria. Students find and evaluate information in order to identify a well-known pathogen whose scientific (Latin) name they have been given.

Our challenge is to adapt our academic resources and approaches to a 45-minute "detective" session during which middle school students can practice and learn some basic scientific information retrieval and evaluation skills at their own educational level. How do we do this? We dazzle the students with "cool" computer equipment. We develop colorful worksheets with a very limited number of tasks. We create a simple workshop-specific home page to cut down on navigation problems. And, we imbibe their enthusiasm and try to share it back with them. We have fun.

This poster was presented at the Academic Library Association of Ohio Annual Conference in Akron, Ohio on November 3, 2006.

From the poster: Engaging future scientists in information use and evaluation

Our goal:

Support college of Science and math outreach to middle schools

Our challenge:

Deliver and exciting, age-appropriate workshop on information use

Our givens:

-25 11-13 year olds -45 minutes per session -4 sessions

Our tools:

-“Wanted Poster” -Simple home page -Computer lab -“Cool chairs” -Online resources -Pathogen slides

Additional web citations on poster: Joyce Calo