To increase understanding of and achievement and interest in life sciences of underserved minority youth. To meet this goal with SEPA Phase I support in a partnership with the New York Hall of Science we developed and pilot tested two science standards-based portable laboratories (Microlab II and Molecules and Health kits) for use in 7th and 8th grade science courses and in introductory high school biology and chemistry courses Microlab II is a microscopy-based kit designed to explore basic aspects of cell biology and physiology. Molecules and Health illustrates the principles of molecular biology and provides students with hands-on experience in manipulating and analyzing DNA The kits contain all the instruments and materials for science standards-based laboratory experiments that precisely matched the New York City science standards. While these standards are similar to the national and New York State science standards they are not seamlessly congruent Each kit packaged in rugged cases contains sufficient volume of all solutions including sterile distilled water to serve ~100 students Students who become familiar with the uses of the equipment (microscopes thermistors video microscopes computers computer software gel electrophoresis apparatus micro-pipettes) in 7th and 8th grades could continue to use them in high school courses The next step is for Columbia University again with the New York Hall of Science as a partner to disseminate the two kits (Microlab II and Molecules and Health)
Many New York City public schools lack dedicated laboratories and the equipment needed for students to perform hands-on experiments in the life sciences. Not surprisingly most of these schools are located in sections of the city in which most of the students are minorities underrepresented in the life and health sciences. To address the needs of these students we have with the support of a Phase I SEPA grant developed and pilot tested two New York City science performance standards-specific portable laboratory kits Microlab II and Molecules and Health. These kits contain all the equipment and other materials needed to perform relatively sophisticated life science experiments in a room that has only tables and electrical outlets. The kits are suitable for use by life and health sciences students in grades 7-12. Microlab II is a microscopy-based kit designed to explore basic aspects of cell biology and physiology. Molecules and Health is designed to illustrate the principles of molecular biology and to provide students with hands-on experience in manipulating and analyzing DMA. The present application seeks SEPA Phase II support to train teachers to use these kits and to disseminate them to schools throughout New York City. This SEPA dissemination project has four specific aims: Specific Aim 1: Improve the quality of hands-on laboratory life sciences instruction and life sciences achievement of New York City middle and high school students underrepresented in the health sciences. One hundred thirty-five New York City public middle and high school science teachers will receive three days of training at the New York Hall of Science in the use of the Microlab II or Molecules and Health kits and if needed two days of in-school assistance by a Hall of Science professional developer in setting up and using these kits. Specific Aim 2: Provide an opportunity for students who devise the best 8th grade “exit” projects in classes of teachers participating in the training program described in Aim 1 to further explore their project and demonstrate it to the public while participating in a four-day “Science Summer Camp” at the New York Hall of Science. Specific Aim 3: Invite six middle or high school teachers who perform at an exemplary level in the training program described in Aim 1 to obtain advanced laboratory training by participating in Columbia’s Summer Research Program. Specific Aim 4: Assess the several impacts of this project on teachers and students.
135 New York City public middle and high school teachers will be provided with training in use of the kits (15 hours over three days). Since each teacher interacts with ~100 students per year 13500 students will gain hands-on experience in the concepts equipment technologies and experiments in these kits. Assuming these kits are used each year by the same 135 teachers in the ensuing eight years they will impact an additional 108000 students largely minorities underrepresented in the health sciences. Teachers will receive in-school assistance by a New York Hall of Science professional developer in setting up and using the kits. Each middle school teacher participating in kit training will have the opportunity to nominate a student underrepresented in the health sciences who has designed the best New York City required 8th grade exit project to further explore this project and demonstrate it to the public at a four-day “Summer Science Camp” operated by the New York Hall of Science. Furthermore students who perform well at these activities will be invited to participate in the New York Hall of Science’s “Explainers” program (similar to docents).
The kits were developed with the assistance of six Summer Research Program participants and alumni. These teachers tested the equipment critiqued the proposed experiments as they were developed and reviewed the text of the manuals. Once the kits were completed a pilot group of teachers convened to be trained in use of the kits and provide feedback. The evaluation was conducted through a questionnaire and interviews. Now that we are confident that the kits are ready for use in the New York City public schools the effectiveness of the kit training with respect to the teachers’ own content knowledge and their ability to guide their students in use of the kits will be assessed on a continuous basis where each teacher will complete a comprehensive questionnaire before and after the training. After use of the kits the teacher will again fill out a questionnaire to evaluate their experience. One of the unique and distinguishing characteristics of Columbia’s Summer Research Program for Science Teachers is that from its inception it has assessed whether teacher participation in the program impacts students’ interest and achievement in science. Student interest in science has been measured by collecting data from the schools on student participation in science clubs and Intel Science Talent projects. Student achievement in science has been measured by collecting science Regents exam pass rates from the New York City Department of Education. We will continue collecting this type of data with a close eye on the students in classes of teachers who have used the kits. Eighth graders will be assessed by collecting similar standardized eighth grade test data.
Resources for Sharing
Two sets of Portable Laboratories BiotechLab consisting of eight dual electrophoresis units for 32 students four dual power supplies variable micropipettes a centrifuge a light visualization system for gels a dual water bath an incubator and all of the reagents and expendable supplies for all of the activities – all packaged in easy-to-roll musician boxes that fit inside a mid-sized car A comprehensive manual to accompany the BiotechLab and also provide pre/post-visit activities Five sets of Portable Laboratories Microlab consisting of four iBook laptops and software for studying microorganisms three Vernier LabPro units with CO2 and temperature probes and Flexcams A comprehensive manual to accompany the Microlab and also provide pre/post-visit activities
7th through 11th grade science teachers and their students.
Biology and biochemistry.