Thursday, January 9, 2014

What: A field trip through the University of Iowa College of Education's Project HOPE (Healthcare, Occupations, Preparation, and Exploration).

Who: An estimated 106 middle school students from West Liberty, Iowa, will participate in several of 20 different potential sessions on the UI campus in areas ranging from audiology, physics, business, and urban and regional planning to nursing, pharmacy, dentistry, counseling psychology, and mini medical schools and Hardin Library for the Health Sciences. Saba Ali, a UI College of Education associate professor in the counseling psychology program, created and directs Project HOPE.

When and where: Friday, Jan. 10, with 10 different morning sessions offered concurrently from 9:15 to 11 a.m. and nine afternoon sessions offered concurrently from 11:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in a variety of locations on campus.

To get a complete schedule of sessions and locations, contact Lois J. Gray at 319-384-0077 or at or Ali at 319-335-5495 or To attend any of the sessions in the UI Hospitals and Clinics, contact Jennifer Brown in advance at 319-356-7124 or to arrange a media escort.

Why: Project HOPE is a career education–bridging program that allows the exploration of health science professions for eighth-grade students in rural Iowa middle schools with large populations of Mexican immigrants.

Health disparities are on the rise among minorities in Iowa, in part because of the lack of bilingual and ethnic diversity among health professionals. Project HOPE is a workforce/career development program that serves to interest minority and rural students early in their education in a health science career so they can better plan for a healthcare career. Weeklong career exploration activities coupled with the simulated health science experience provide the early exposure to these careers that students need to develop interests and think about the next academic steps toward planning for these careers.

Background: During the sessions, students will have the opportunity to do everything from learning about how to make robots in physics labs to participating in hands-on chemistry experiments, plan healthy zones through the box city simulation in urban and regional planning, learn like nursing students in the College of Nursing’s state-of-the-art simulation center, and learn how to use laboratory equipment to make lip balm in pharmacy labs. They will also learn about "fill and drill" from a UI dental professor and will have the chance to be a dentist for a day by practicing filling in teeth on prototypes and interacting with dental students, just to name a few examples of interactive activities.

Project HOPE is a collaboration between the UI Colleges of Education, Medicine, Dentistry, Law, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health, Business, Engineering, Liberal Arts and Sciences (Departments of Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Astronomy, Communication Sciences and Disorders, and School of Art and Art History), School of Urban and Regional Planning, Hardin Library for the Health Sciences, UI Hospitals and Clinics STEM education programs, the State Hygienic Laboratory at the University of Iowa, the UI Carver College of Medicine Office of Cultural Affairs and Diversity Initiatives, and the UI Center for Diversity and Enrichment in the Chief Diversity Office.

Because Project HOPE was selected as one of 12 of Gov. Terry Branstad’s STEM Scale-Up projects in 2012-13, the program is expanding into additional communities.