Students As Co-Researchers, A New Model for Training and Engaging Youth
What is MYHealth?
The Michigan Youth Health (MYHealth) program is a research training program for high school students. Through MYHealth, we hope to increase persistence in research careers, specifically among groups that are underrepresented in science, engineering, and math (STEM) careers.
MYHealth recruits high school students from Southeast Michigan with help from our community partners. Then, students are engaged in the interactive MYHealth research training program. Throughout the program, students work with seasoned researchers to apply what they have learned by designing, implementing, and sharing findings from their own research project. High school students are trained through the same methods used to train career scientists.
Youth are engaged throughout the process to design and improve the MYHealth curriculum, select research topics in line with their interests, and share what they have learned with peers, stakeholders, and their communities. MYHealth participants are taught to conduct research with people, not on people.
Why High School Students?
Existing programs have worked to reduce inequities in STEM careers at the undergraduate or graduate level. However, very little attention has been placed upon high school students. Adolescence (or the teen years) is a unique time period when a desire and intent to pursue science and research careers develops. A community-based participatory research approach that engages youth as co-researchers has the potential to improve interest and persistence in STEM.