Authentic Bioinformatics in the Classroom (ABC) Project

  • Project Description

    The Authentic Bioinformatics in the Classroom (ABC) Project has the overall goal of developing bioinformatics and biomedical research interests and skills of high school students from underrepresented backgrounds by integrating this content to high school biology. Students will work on basic science discovery as well as cutting edge research questions related to COVID-19 while learning high school biology. The desired outcome is to stimulate an increase in students from underrepresented groups that go on to pursue STEM careers including biomedical sciences and bioinformatics.

  • Abstract

    There is an urgent need to increase the numbers and diversity of bioinformatics-trained scientists joining the biomedical and clinical workforce. For bioinformatics to be considered a career choice by students from underrepresented groups, it is critical to develop awareness of bioinformatics in high school. A strength of bioinformatics is that it can be integrated into existing biological content and can strengthen connections between biological topics in a typical high school biology curriculum. The Authentic Bioinformatics in the Classroom (ABC) Project utilizes the power of bioinformatics to bring context to biology and integrate bioinformatics in high school biology classes. By developing bioinformatics discovery and research-centered investigations for high school students (as modules throughout the school year), bioinformatics and scientific research become a natural part of biology. Here, evidence-based bioinformatics curricular materials for high school biology will be developed in collaboration with high school biology teachers, to promote mastery of biological sciences while stimulating interest and awareness of bioinformatics among high school students from underrepresented backgrounds – thus, enabling them to pursue biomedical and clinical research careers including bioinformatics. To prepare teachers for developing bioinformatics curricular materials, they will participate in a research-oriented bioinformatics lab where they will learn the bioinformatics concepts and skills necessary to refine a bioinformatics draft curriculum (developed by the project team and approved by an External Advisory Committee) so that it can be authentically implemented in their high school classrooms. The curriculum will follow successful Modeling Instruction practices for which the project team has extensive experience. The curriculum will develop NGSS practices and be aligned to several NGSS topics and cross-cutting concepts, while engaging students through basic bioinformatics, data science, and research. To disseminate the curriculum, the project will provide professional development workshops for high school teachers to develop teachers’ bioinformatics knowledge and skills, engage them in the curriculum through experiential learning opportunities, and provide opportunities for practice and reflection. Teachers will be supported through their implementation of the curriculum by providing structured support from the project team, prepared undergraduate students (Bioinformatics Ambassadors (BAs)), district curriculum support specialists, as well as a developing teacher learning community. The BAs will also serve as near-peer mentors and role models in the teachers’ classrooms based on an adaption of the successful Learning Assistant model.

  • Dissemination Strategies

    Dissemination efforts include: 1) communicating study results with research communities, 2)
    disseminating results and resources to practitioners, and 3) propagating findings to practitioners through the
    SEPA community. Research results will be shared with the broader education, science education, and biology
    education research communities through peer-reviewed articles and conference presentations.

Project Audience

High school biology students and teachers

Subjects Addressed

Bioinformatics and biomedical research