PEERS Program Goes Remote

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Project Engagement Encouraging Rising Students (PEERS) successfully transitioned to remote learning. Through the HPE Data Science Institute’s Engaged Data Science program, UH undergraduate students continue mentoring high school students.

PEERS program members meeting on a Zoom video conference call.

Project Engagement Encouraging Rising Students (PEERS) is a mentorship program dedicated to connecting UH undergraduates and high school students through project-based learning in STEM and community health fields. PEERS prepares local high school students for academic success by initiating community projects and giving them opportunities to earn college scholarships. Last year, student projects focused on hurricane preparation. This year, the projects address new techniques to improve preventative care in their communities.

Regarding societal guidelines, the team created new innovations to arrange for an easy transition from face-to-face meetings to educational online interactions.

"We are all using MS Teams, GroupMe, and Zoom for communication. Specifically, the students are using Google Drive and Google Slides to collaborate and work on their projects," said Christine Pham, PEERS project leader.

Andrew Kapral, director of engaged data science, and the leadership team were impressed by the way the high school students and UH mentors responded to this new situation. Their goal from the beginning was to use project-based learning to establish meaningful mentoring relationships.

“I am proud that our undergraduate student-led PEERS program is continuing online for the remainder of the school year. Our high school student teams are developing projects and examining ways to strengthen community health across Houston. Building our knowledge of the area has never been more important, and I am excited to see their work in our competition at the end of May,” Kapral said.