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About IRISE Research & Discovery Science


  • Research shows a disparity in equal access to high-quality STEM education for under-represented groups.

  • Income and geographical location of learners often dictate the quality of their STEM education as under-resourced institutions struggle to provide the high cost of a well-funded K-12 STEM curriculum.

  • A 2021 paper by Frederick Grinnell, made up only 4.5% of students participating in science fairs beyond the high school level, students who advanced beyond the high school level often received help from scientists, and African American students received the least support from scientists, parents, and/or teachers.


Professor Jenkins’ IRISE Research & Discovery Science was inspired by her storybook entitled Zakiah and Professor Jenkins. The book presents a real research project written as a dialogue between Professor Jenkins and Zakiah as they complete a chemistry experiment together.  IRISE research projects and boot camps allow youth to conduct original research projects with Professor Jenkins or another practicing scientist. The projects can be presented at science fairs.   


  1. IRISE Research and Discovery Science (IRISE-RDS) is a STEM initiative that partners scientists with teachers/students, churches, and community centers to support K-12 science/math curricula through hands-on, real-world, original research experiences for students. 

  2. Our research projects fuel exploratory learning across a wide range of disciplines, including but not limited to chemistry, mathematics, reading, writing, and health science. 

  3. The Vitamin C Project is interdisciplinary, incorporating curriculum standards adjusted to the grade level of the student participants.  

  4. Professor Jenkins or another practicing scientist travels to designated locations (classrooms, libraries, community centers) to conduct original research projects with students or youth in the community.  All projects are done with "household chemicals."  

  5. The projects can be carried out with household chemicals, supplies, or traditional chemistry materials. IRISE project materials are affordable and readily assessable.



  1. Partner scientists with teachers/students, churches, and community centers to conduct hands-on virtual and/or on-location research projects. 

  2. Engage students in “basic” research projects that support K-12 curriculum standards (traditional experiments).

  3. Engage students in original research projects that can be presented at science fairs and professional conferences. 

  4. Provide affordable, assessable, and sustainable research opportunities for teachers, students, and school systems serving under-represented populations.

  5. Expose students to scientific research at an early age.

  6. Provide an interdisciplinary "real-world" application of math, science, health science, reading and writing principles/standards.



  1. Provide K-12 teachers and students with high-quality, sustainable, hands-on STEM research experiences with research scientists.

  2. Tailor research projects to support science standards & curricula by integrating the appropriate science, math, reading, and writing standards into research activities.

  3. Increase the number of underrepresented minorities participating in science fairs.

  4. Increase the number of science teachers engaging students in high-quality, low-cost research projects.  

  5. Increase the number of STEM faculty/scientist role models conducting research with underrepresented groups in K-12 STEM classrooms.

  6. Increase K-12 teacher and student participation in STEM research.

  7. Integrate technology as a tool to enhance the quality and efficiency of each research, teaching, and learning experience.

  8. Promote equity and inclusion.


IRISE-RDS will accomplish its goals and objectives by partnering practicing scientists and faculty with K-12 teachers/students, churches, and community centers to facilitate and complete a 1 to 5-day science research project - projects that can be presented at science fairs, conferences, and/or submitted for peer-reviewed publication.  Participating institutions may choose to implement this activity with students in the 3rd – 12th grade only, with each grade doing a more advanced version of the project.For the 2022-23 academic year, IRISE-RDS will offer the following:

  1. Hands-on Teacher Workshops on how to complete Professor Jenkins' vitamin C project as an integrated extension and application of their current curricula standards – multiple workshops of up to 24 teachers can be given at various sites.

  2. Hands-on Student Research Sessions facilitated by Professor Jenkins (or a practicing scientist) where students complete the vitamin C project – allowing students to work directly with a scientist; student sessions can be given during regular class sessions at multiple schools.

  3. Provide Pre-Filled Poster Templates and all necessary tools for the submission of research into a science fair. 

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Example of Samples & Results 

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