Sustaining the Maine ScienceCorps: Collaborative Integration of Research Experiences and Active Learning into Bioscience Education
University of Southern Maine
Beginning in 2001, Fellows from the Department of Applied Medical Sciences have been working with science teachers and students in rural Maine high schools to enrich laboratory based active learning. The project is becoming increasingly interdisciplinary as Fellows from the Department of Biological Sciences have also been recruited. Efforts to bring together ecology, epidemiology, microbiology, molecular biology, and immunology in inquiry-based laboratory activities for high school students have fostered development of collaborative skills and interdisciplinary interests among the Fellows. Supporting this work is a cross-disciplinary graduate biosciences course, Collaboration in Research and Education, which meets weekly for seminars and collaborative work that includes Fellows, faculty, and often teachers linked to the group using distance technology. Discussions typically parallel development or refinement of classroom laboratory activities for twelve participating schools. Topics have included the effects of toxic metals on microtubules in neurons, the emergence of the H5N1 avian influenza A virus, the diversity and ecology of marine microbes and bacteriophages, strategies for the biological control of invasive species, and current research in astrobiology. Further development of the course will provide broadly based bioscience professional development for participating high school science teachers while enhancing the scientific backgrounds, technical expertise, and communication skills of graduate Fellows.