GK-12-PLUS (Partners Linking Urban Schools)
Fellow Marielle Postava-Davignon uses a variety of resources and strategies to help her 10th graders learn biology and connect it with everyday life. Through extensive one-on-one time during classroom activities, Marielle has been able to make a connection with most students that greatly benefits both parties. The students feel comfortable asking her questions and confiding ways that she can help them better, while Marielle gets to view science from a whole new perspective. Although the fellows arrive in the classroom to teach the students, in many ways the students have actually been teaching them. Fellow Jay Rushforth introduced 45 9th graders to the university research facilities as part of a closing activity for a unit on waves, light and sound. Jay and the associate director of the ELMO design program set up a light and sound lab for experiments with lasers, lenses, ripple tanks, wave tables, and frequency generators. Students experimented with concepts like refraction, reflection, diffraction, focal points, constructive interference, and harmonics. Civil engineering graduate students demonstrated the concept of resonance by using a shaker table to simulate earthquakes. Students designed bridges using “West Point Bridge” design software to simulate the strength of various trusts. Graduate Fellow Anna Myers brings her interest in environmental sustainability and ecosystem modeling to AP Biology students at English High School. Anna also conducts research at the New England Aquarium and was able to have her students participate in the aquarium-sponsored Student Ocean Summit on Thompson Island. Students worked with peers from many different schools to develop potential management plans for the area. Fellow Lara Scheherazade Jabr does research on mitochondrial nanomedicine and teaches medical technology to seniors at O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science. Lara prepared a case study on Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms that incorporated genetics, evolution, bioethics, and legislation, while fostering fundamental skill development in writing, researching, public speaking, and analytical thinking. Students became lobbyists representing different groups from pharmaceutical scientists to the EEOC. The lesson included research position papers, a debate on genetic discrimination, and reflection papers. The students developed vital skill sets, learning about the intricacies of genetics, and exploring the controversies surrounding genetic discrimination.