Integrating Molecular Biology Research Techniques into the High School Science Classroom (Lead PI: Sandra Adams)

Integrating Molecular Biology Research Techniques into the High School Science Classroom
Students Reached:50 high school students
Lead Researcher:    Dr. Sandra Adams, Montclair State University
Lead Teacher:Mr. Ronald Durso, Fair Lawn High School  

Dr. Sandra Adams, of Montclair State University, and Mr. Ronald Durso, of Fair Lawn High School, worked together to develop a one-day workshop for Fair Lawn High School science teachers to familiarize them with molecular biology techniques. Dr. Adams taught these teachers about PCR, gel electrophoresis, and DNA fingerprinting in the context of forensics in-class activities. Teachers learned both how to execute these techniques and the principles behind them.

Subsequently, teachers worked together to determine how best to incorporate what they learned into their spring science curricula. After this workshop, Dr. Adams assisted with each teacher’s first in-class implementation of these laboratory techniques and exercises, and continued to provide scientific support throughout the semester. Mr. Durso coordinated the teacher workshop and Dr. Adam’s visits to Fair Lawn High School.

Teachers agreed that students enjoyed performing the techniques as part of their in-class activities, they were engaged by the laboratory exercises, and the activities made these concepts more concrete for them. Of the 50 students who took classes incorporating one or more of the above activities, 15% were from groups underrepresented in STEM and 20% were from low income households.

ASBMB HOPES funding was used to purchase the reagents and materials needed for teacher training and in-class implementation of the activities, including DNA fingerprinting and Quick PCR kits. Future plans include incorporating a visit to Montclair State University and summer research experiences for students.