From Bench to Bedside: Molecular Stories of Research-Based Health Care

Project Website(s)

  • Project Description

    To create student-centered curriculum modules that use physical models to make the molecular world “real” for students To engage teachers in an ongoing professional development program in the area of molecular structure and function To nationally disseminate two student enrichment programs derived from our project: SMART teams (Students Modeling a Research Topic: Teams of high school students and their teacher work with local researchers to create a physical model of a protein under investigation in the lab and the Science Olympiad Protein Modeling event (students use mini-toobers to construct physical models of proteins described in the Molecular of the Month feature of the Protein Data Bank website

  • Abstract

    The goal of this project is to develop inquiry-based curriculum units (ICUs) that present basic concepts of molecular structure in the form of “molecular stories” of research-based health care. These ICUs will be developed by a team of science educators composed of staff of the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) Center for BioMolecular Modeling (CBM) a veteran teacher with curriculum writing experience a science education researcher who will develop assessment instruments to accompany each ICU and high school science teachers who are familiar with the ICU topic as a result of an immersive professional development experience. The professional development program begins with an established summer course “Genes Schemes and Molecular Machines” which updates the teachers’ content knowledge of basic concepts of molecular structure and function. This summer course is followed by a week-long modeling workshop in which teachers select an interesting human disease and explore the molecular basis of the disease while creating physical models of the affected proteins. During the ensuing academic year teachers will organize a Students Modeling A Research Topic (SMART) team in their schools. The SMART team will interact directly with a basic or clinical researcher at a local university to create a physical model of the protein that serves as a drug target for the disease. In the summer following this multi-component in-depth exploration of the molecular basis of a disease and its treatment the teachers will participate as members of the ICU design team. Each ICU will follow a standard inquiry-driven format that provides opportunities for students to discover basic concepts of molecular structure through active hands-on modeling activities. This knowledge is then applied to the clinical situation in a way that emphasizes critical thinking skills. The ICUs that are developed in this project will be broadly disseminated to other teachers in presentations and workshops gien by CBM staff and the participating teachers to students through a protein modeling event of the Wisconsin Science Olympiad in an outreach program to students of the Milwaukee Boys & Girls Club and to adult learners in a series of public lectures hosted by our local Discovery World Museum. The common theme of each ICU is the critical role played by NIH-supported basic and clinical research in the development of new molecular approaches to the treatment of human diseases.

  • Dissemination Strategies

    Visible presence at state regional and national science education meetings Sustained engagement of teachers who assist in the development and dissemination of innovative instructional materials Strong partnerships with other science outreach programs and professional societies

  • Project Evaluation(s)

    Evaluation Goals – Our evaluation goals are twofold: To evaluate how effectively we execute the various components of our multi-faceted proposed project. This phase of the evaluation will be formative in nature and provide feedback to the project staff regarding the effectiveness of the various partnerships described in the project and our progress toward project goals. Page 83 SEPA Project Descriptions To assess the effectiveness of the Tactile Learning Curriculum modules that will be developed as a part of this project. We are interested in assessing the impact of these curriculum modules on both teachers and their students. Evaluation Design – The evaluation of our project is being conducted by two independent “outside” entities: Michele Korb is an experienced science educator and doctoral candidate in Education Department at Marquette University. She will work closely with CBM staff to contribute to both of the evaluation goals described above. She will closely monitor the overall progress of the project toward stated goals and provide formative feedback to project staff. Ms. Korb has developed an evaluation plan this year involving a case study of one high school and she is currently collecting and analyzing the data. SMART team students were given a scientific attitude inventory (SAI-II) prior to their participation in the program and after the completion of the program A survey to assess the impact and effectiveness of the professional development course has been developed and will be disseminated within the next two months Instruments Used – The evaluation plan to assess the curriculum developed utilizes the following instruments: A pre-post test was administered to a biology class at local high school prior to the eight core lessons developed by the CBM An in-depth case study of six individuals within the class was conducted just after the pre-test and before the lessons were taught in class. The same six students were then interviewed following the lessons and the post-test. The interview consists of follow-up question about choices on the pre-test a concept map and storyboarding. Types of Data Collected – Data collection is currently in progress. Results of Data Analysis – Pending.

  • Resources for Sharing

    MSOE Model Lending Library ( Collections of physical models can be borrowed form the MOSE Model Lending Library just like a book from interlibrary loan. Online computer visualization resources ( A series of jmol tutorials designed to enhance the use of physical models is available on our website. TLC Curriculum Units (Tactile Learning Curriculum). The first eight core lessons of the TLC Curriculum are currently undergoing Phase II field-testing. These units are available (in their current form) upon request.

Project Audience

Middle and High School Teachers and Their Students

Subjects Addressed

Molecular Structure and Function