Science and Ethics of Genome Engineering

  • Project Description

    This project supports the creation of a professional development experience for high school science teachers that will update their content knowledge in the emerging field of genome engineering and provide them with tactile teaching tools with which to engage their students.

    The project is aligned with the goals of the CoSTEM Strategic Plan to train additional K‐12 STEM teachers and to build a more diverse biomedical workforce.

  • Abstract

    Research has shown that teacher effectiveness is closely correlated with improved student performance in the classroom. This project describes a professional development experience designed to increase both the content knowledge of teachers and to sharpen their pedagogical skills. The content focus of the project will address the integration of basic concepts of genetics with the molecular genetics of today, and the new science of genome engineering that will shape tomorrow.

    The project will also train teachers in a pedagogy that values questions over answers and encourages students to develop their critical thinking skills. The professional development experience is designed around two one-week long workshops, held in successive summers. Teachers will be introduced to a collection of innovative tactile teaching tools designed to function as thinking tools in the hands of students. In addition, teachers will be introduced to a series of molecular stories of current research and shown how foundational concepts of biology can be taught within the context of these stories. A unique feature of this project will occur during the second summer workshop – hosted by the science outreach groups at the Broad Institute at MIT and Harvard or the Innovative Genomics Initiative (IGI) at UC Berkeley – where teachers will experience science as a process of discovery as they interact with researchers who are actively involved in the development of genome editing technology.

    This project is well aligned with the CoSTEM Strategic Plan and the SEPA program’s goal of training a more diverse biomedical workforce. Three cohorts of twenty-four high school science teachers each will be directly impacted by this project. These teachers will be recruited from our local, urban Milwaukee Public School system and from a national pool of teachers. During teacher recruitment, preference will be given to those who teach in schools with a predominantly URM student population – such that a minimum of 50% of the teachers enrolled in each cohort will serve predominantly students who are currently under-represented in science careers. This project represents a partnership between the MSOE Center for BioMolecular Modeling and (i) the science outreach groups at The Broad Institute and the IGI, (ii) the Protein DataBank, (iii) Milwaukee Public Schools, (iv) the CTSI of Southeastern Wisconsin, and (v) R. Alta Charo, a noted bioethicist with expertise in genome editing.