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A Call for Lab Day Volunteers

By Eddy Ball
April 2010

NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., recently announced that he will celebrate National Lab Day (NLD) on the front lines of science education in a Washington, D.C. high school. In his personal message to extramural scientists, he encouraged participation by other NIH scientists as a way to "bring scientists like you together with K-12 teachers and students across the country for a day of hands-on learning."

Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D.
In his NIH-wide announcement March 11, Collins wrote that he looks forward to "doing hands-on science and talking about what makes science and discovery so cool to me." (Photo courtesy of NIH)

Although May 5 is designated as the official NLD( Exit NIEHS, Collins and event organizers emphasize that NLD "is more than a day - it's a movement... a national barn-raising for hands-on learning" that has already begun across the nation. The NLD website offers a way for scientists to volunteer their talents and for science teachers everywhere to post project requests and find resources to match their needs.

Collins asked scientists to check out resources at the NIH Science Education Nation Home Page( Exit NIEHS and sign up to help schools in their communities improve science achievement. Several teachers in the Durham area have already posted requests, and more Triangle area educators are sure to sign up as publicity about NLD grows.

In his message, Collins pointed to the country's dismal ranking in terms of 15 year olds' science achievement - number 29 out of 57 countries - and the need for young people to develop effective problem-solving skills to function as responsible adults. "Not only is the future of biomedical research in danger," he explained, "but the future health of our economy depends on a workforce with quantitative skills in math and science."

NLD is a non-profit organization sponsored by the National Science Teachers Association, American Chemical Society (ACS), MacArthur Foundation, Jack D. Hidary Foundation, NIH, and National Science Foundation.

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