September 2012

Sidebar: Evaluating the 2011 HOPES projects



The third annual HOPES: Fostering Partnerships Workshop will take place in April in Boston as part of the society’s 2013 annual meeting. Registration and program information for the workshop will be available in February. Awardees from the 2011 and 2012 competitions will be invited to present their findings. Though all ASBMB members are invited to submit proposals, preference is given to workshop attendees. Information regarding the HOPES seed grants can be obtained at

No. 1: success of the project
Michele Bahr of Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratories (Woods Hole, Mass.) and Whitney Hagins of Lexington High School (Lexington, Mass.) headed up the project “Wolbachia and students: Discover the scientist within.” Hagins reported, in part:

“(The) initial plan to have students teaching students worked out very well. I decided to jump right in with my 10th-grade (advanced placement) biology students and do the Wolbachia investigation as their first lab experience of the year … It was interesting to watch how tentative and scared they were as they began. My assurances that this was an adventure and there was no penalty for screwing up helped some, but for most, since this was their first AP class and first lab, they were nervous.

“(T)he best part of this project was watching these same students teach other students. They were phenomenal! It was so exciting to listen to the formerly tentative and shy students explain how to use each piece of equipment and how to do the complicated protocol. It was interesting to hear them mimic my instructions and, as time went along, adding their own variations and explanations — making the instructions more student-friendly and helpful.

“During the first month of school, the students in my class gave up their free periods to go into other classes and teach the background and techniques. Overall, this was very successful, as we had a total of 148 students run through the Wolbachia investigation.”

No. 2: number of students affected and their demographics
Mary Jo Koroli of the University of Florida Center for Precollegiate Education and Training (Gainesville, Fla.), in partnership with biology teacher Janet Bisogno of Celebration High School (Celebration, Fla.), headed up “Teach tech: increasing the use of biotechnology in high-school science classrooms.” They conducted four professional-development workshops, each with a different science theme, for the high school’s life sciences teachers during their regularly scheduled Professional Learning Communities time. Fourteen teachers participated.

Koroli and Bisogno report that by the year’s end,

  • • five teachers had implemented the pipetting lab, affecting about 530 students;
  • • four teachers had implemented the gel electrophoresis lab, affecting about 375 students;
  • • three teachers had implemented the blood-typing lab, affecting about 350 students; and
  • • two teachers had implemented the ELISA, affecting about 200 students.

Of the 1,717 students involved, 49.1 percent were female, 49 percent were Hispanic, 10.6 percent were black and 10.8 percent were Native American or Pacific Islander.

Figure 1 
Figure 1

No. 3: students’ knowledge before and after the project
J. David Holtzclaw of Transduction Technologies, in partnership with Kristin Swanson of Norris Middle School (both of Omaha, Neb.), Shelly Avery of Santee Community Schools (Santee Indian Reservation, Niobrara, Neb.) and Carol Moravec of Lincoln Southeast High School (Lincoln, Neb.) reported that the following students participated in their project, “Inquiry-based learning of K–12 physiology and nutrition concepts using pedometers”:

  • • 40 middle-school students (67.5 percent of whom were from underrepresented minority groups),
  • • 45 high-school students (26.7 percent from underrepresented minority groups) and
  • • 23 students in the Santee Community School (95.6 percent of whom were from underrepresented minority groups).

They further report a 30 percent increase in the number of correct answers given by the students in a pre- and post-project quiz (Fig. 1).

Patricia Halpin of the University of New Hampshire at Manchester, in partnership with fourth-grade teacher Heather Cantagallo of Sunapee Central Elementary School (Sunapee, N.H.), also reported data for their project titled “Getting fourth-graders excited about the cardiovascular system.” For this project, the entire fourth-grade class (20 female and 17 male students, all Caucasian) participated in a three-day project. The students were given a questionnaire before and after the project to assess the impact of the activities.

The most significant changes (Fig. 2) were obtained for the following questions:

  • • Question 3: What is blood pressure?
  • • Question 7: After you exercise for five minutes, your breathing [respiration] rate should go _____ .
  • • Question 8: After you exercise for five minutes, your blood pressure should go _____.

Figure 2 
Figure 2

No. 4: dissemination and long-term plans
The project by Dorothy Belle Poli of Roanoke College (Salem, Va.) in partnership with Amy Chattin and Ashly Dowdy of Franklin County High School (Rocky Mount, Va.), titled “Bryological respiration and photosynthetic comparisons: a case to connect Virginia high-school students to active research,” affected more than 100 high-school students of various grades. The students worked on a real research problem alongside scientists at Roanoke College. The organizers reported:

“Originally this project was only targeting 30 mixed-level students, because of costs. However, once the materials were prepared, several additional teachers were excited to try out the laboratories and iBook materials, and the school gave additional funds to the experiments. Even an ecology teacher used the bryophyte systems to show how respiration and photosynthesis was impacted using current drink choices (i.e., soda pop) on the plants. Therefore, over 100 students of varying levels (grades 9–12) and abilities (noncollege-bound to AP courses) were exposed to this project.”

Although the organizers’ initial goal of publishing the results of the project in a scholarly journal — and having students as co-authors — was not realized, the information was disseminated at a conference with very positive results. The organizers explained:

“The academic bryophyte community received the iBook with enthusiasm during the MOSS 2012 and 3rd International Symposium on Bryophyte Systematics joint meeting at the New York Botanical Garden in June 2012. This community of researchers and teachers has requested to use and contribute to this iBook to enrich the opportunities to educators of all levels. One researcher has already contacted Dr. Poli to add his reproduction videos to this interactive media product.”


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