The Grinnell Science Project (GSP) was created in the early 1990s to address a problem indicated by data faculty and staff gathered about Grinnell students. It was found that students—particularly those of color, women, and first-generation college students—were entering Grinnell College with an avowed interest in pursuing degrees in the sciences, but abandoning their academic goals when they failed to do well in introductory sciences courses.
Based upon our data analysis, we concluded that the factors interfering with academic success in the sciences were more likely to be socioeconomic or environmental rather than academic. Our intervention strategy, then, needed to be more focused on social issues than on academic remediation.
We developed a program aimed at addressing three barriers to success in the sciences experienced by students we identified as members of groups that are under-represented in the sciences: unsuccessful acclimation to college life; learning styles that do not respond to traditional pedagogy; and a lack of mentoring and role models.
Drawing on national studies and efforts, we developed a program aimed at addressing three barriers to success in the sciences. To address these issues, the program now called the Grinnell Science Project was devised over a series of years. It has involved curricular changes, activities and structures that foster acclimation to college life and a community of scientists, and improvement of student achievement.
The Grinnell Science Project includes program objectives designed to respond to each barrier:
- To provide role models and contexts for the study of science through mentoring and community building
- To respond to different learning styles through creating interactive science/mathematics courses and increased opportunities for mentored research
- To foster acclimation to college life through providing a pre-orientation
T-shirt design for 2010 pre-orientation group. The T-shirt design incorporates each of our science disciplines and "The Zirkle" -- a sculpture on campus by the late Louis Zirkel, longtime professor of art at the College. One of the students' tasks during pre-orientation is to find the volume of The Zirkle.
Students actively participate in research collaboration, in introductory and advanced courses as well as faculty-mentored experiences.