Developing and conducting experimental research is a complex challenge. Middle school students at Centner Academy in Miami received a hands-on research course, delivered by an FIU Business professor.
The program began in parable form with the story of John, a very curious child, explained Alfred Castillo, assistant teaching professor of information systems and business analytics, who presented the workshop.
“I thought it would be a little bit intimidating and that it would be over their heads,” said Castillo. “Even before I finished sections of the story they were thinking ahead about what would come next. They were super engaged, super reactive.”
The one-day bootcamp for students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades began with an hourlong class and continued with an on-site workshop where students in each grade developed and designed an individual research proposal, guided by their teachers.
Castillo said each student selected a topic he was interested in or was motivated by and had to come up with two or three research questions they would like to study within this topic area. The assignment included a literature review, creating a research model and the experimental design – materials and methods, and the procedure to carry out the experiment.
“It was incredible to interact with such amazing young minds and potentially amazing researchers,” said Castillo.
The community engagement course was presented by FIU Business’s Office of Research and Doctoral studies and similar initiatives will be available for other schools in South Florida.