One of the prime objectives of HudsonAlpha is to create unique educational programs to bring biotechnology and genetics to students across the United States. Using an interactive, hands-on approach, the institute has developed programs that reach students at all levels of education. HudsonAlpha is also committed to providing educators with essential professional development. We recognize the profound impact teachers have in creating future generations of scientifically informed citizens. By reaching out to teachers and administrators, the institute touches thousands of students every year.
Educational outreach school initiatives:
Middle School Biotechnology Module
Studies show that the best age to interest students in science as a possible career is middle school. For this reason, HudsonAlpha has partnered with the Alabama Department of Education to develop activities for the Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative (AMSTI). AMSTI is the only statewide program of its kind on a national level. HudsonAlpha has developed an eight-lesson module that incorporates hands-on lab techniques and state curriculum requirements to give students a deeper understanding of what genetics entails. Students extract DNA from fruits, craft models of DNA and RNA molecules, explore the role of biotechnology in transforming various industries, examine the influence of genetics on health and disease and research a career in biotechnology to present to their fellow students. Teachers and students agree it’s a combination that makes science meaningful, relevant to today’s career exploration and fun.
The module has been incorporated into the statewide seventh grade AMSTI training program. AMSTI currently reaches approximately 40 percent of the state’s students and aims to reach all students across the state by 2011, expanding the reach of the biotechnology activities to nearly 60,000 students.
High School Biotechnology Activities
HudsonAlpha is partnering with the Alabama Department of Education to design new biotech laboratories for Alabama Science in Motion (ASIM), part of the Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative. ASIM provides more than 100 mobile science activities that travel to high schools throughout Alabama. Each new biotechnology lab meets state-mandated course of study requirements for multiple classes – for example, an introductory ninth grade biology class, an eleventh grade genetics course and a senior level AP biology group. There are also links to anatomy and physiology, environmental science and forensics.
Each lab poses a question a researcher or physician would ask as part of his or her daily routine and also includes a profile of biotech professionals relating to the lab — such as a genetic counselor, food service technician or diagnostic lab worker. These career vignettes further help students envision themselves as part of the growing biotechnology field and workforce. The specific lab pages and career profiles can be found at the HudsonAlpha website here.
Each lab is piloted across the ASIM biology hubs (11 exist across the state of Alabama). Following any necessary modification, the labs will be incorporated into the existing slate of biology-based labs available to high school teachers across Alabama. With the assistance of funds from a Department of Labor Workforce Innovations for Regional Economic Development (WIRED) grant, HudsonAlpha will provide funding for equipment, supplies and professional development to the ASIM teachers and biology specialists across Alabama and South Central Tennessee.
Career/Tech Biotechnology Courses
HudsonAlpha is partnering with the Department of Education to develop a series of biotechnology courses for Alabama Career/Technical Education, a statewide program designed to prepare high school students for college and a variety of career opportunities. The first course under development is a semester long introduction to biotechnology. This course not only provides students hands-on skills to prepare them for a career as a biotechnician or researcher but also offers valuable lab experience for those who want to pursue an advanced degree in the biotech field. The institute will offer ongoing professional development to teachers involved in the instruction of the biotech courses across the state. In addition, HudsonAlpha’s onsite teaching lab will serve as a local classroom to teach the course for students in the greater Huntsville region.
Distance Learning Program
The institute’s distance learning program will take advantage of the infrastructure provided at the institute and affiliate biotechnology companies. With the ability to connect with schools across the state through the internet, and in some cases audio and video conferencing, the institute’s recorded lectures and course materials will be available to students at anytime. Seminars from guest lecturers and notable scientists from around the world will be an integral part of the program. Real time distance education offerings will be offered as the technology becomes available.
BioTrain Internship Program
With the support of a Department of Labor Workforce Innovations for Regional Economic Development (WIRED) grant, HudsonAlpha is developing an internship program known as BioTrain for students who desire a detailed experience in biotechnology. BioTrain will reach out to high school through PhD students to offer diverse experiences from marketing and business strategy to in-depth laboratory research. This offers an incredible opportunity for those interested in a career in biotechnology. BioTrain will deliver meaningful experiences to all internship participants that not only offers career appropriate laboratory skills but also provide unique professional networking opportunities found. BioTrain offers laboratory experiences as well as a professional development environment to supports developing scientists.
There are several internship opportunities available within the BioTrain program. Each internship opportunity is crafted with specific skill sets in mind and will be open to participants based on their educational level and area of concentration. Additional information and the application process can be found at the HudsonAlpha Education website here.
Educator in Residence
HudsonAlpha has established the Biotechnology Educator in Residence program where a science teacher can take a professional leave of absence from their school and spend a year of residency at HudsonAlpha. The teacher is immersed in both the research and corporate side of biotechnology as he or she works with institute scientists and local business leaders. Educators in residence focus on learning opportunities that maximize their professional development and the lessons that can be brought back to the classroom. He or she attends biotech and genetics conferences to experience the larger scientific community and helps develop and evaluate new activities for both students and fellow teachers. The educator in residence serves as a bridge between the classroom and the biotechnology researcher and company. Additional information and the educator in residence application can be found here.
Summer Camp Programming
HudsonAlpha has partnered with SciQuest Science Center to offer summer day camps at HudsonAlpha in biotechnology for middle school age students. Each camp is a multi-day experience that takes place in the educational spaces of the institute and offers a mix of hands-on experience and career-exploration and development. Students are immersed in the world of biotechnology through dynamic discussions and laboratory experiments. To provide practical context, students participate in biotech lab applications such as DNA extraction, protein purification, and enzyme analysis. Career opportunities in biotechnology are also highlighted to aid students in career exploration. Hudson Alpha’s vision is to grow the summer camp program to include students in upper grades by implementing a series of camps, each building on the other in terms of complexity and skill development. Information about SciQuest and summer camps can be found here at the SciQuest website.
At the same time, HudsonAlpha is collaborating with area community colleges to offer biotechnology camps for high school students. Each four-day camp includes two days of hands-on laboratory activities at the local community college, a day visiting a regional medical center to explore medical technologies and a capstone day at HudsonAlpha. While at HudsonAlpha, the students will extract DNA from foods available at the grocery store and test those foodstuffs for the presence of genetically modified organisms. Students will also tour the institute and interact with researchers and members of the associated companies. Two camps were organized in 2008 (Snead State and Wallace State), with a third community college (Columbia Community College in Tennessee) joining during the 2009 summer. These are excellent approaches to connect regional community colleges with HudsonAlpha and expose a wider range of students to the world of biotechnology. Application information will be available for these camps in spring 2009.