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Synthetic Biology for Tennessee Schools: BioBuilder Partners with Niswonger Foundation on $8.8M Federal Grant for STEM Education

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- The BioBuilder Educational Foundation announced that they are to partner with the Niswonger Foundation on their award of an "Education Innovation and Research" (EIR) Grant from the U.S. Department of Education that will focus on educational opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

BioBuilder will provide teacher professional development in the area of synthetic biology through their Essentials and Master Teacher workshops. BioBuilder's Professional Development workshops impact a teacher's understanding of biology and their approach to teaching it. Co-taught by a practicing synthetic biologist and a high school teacher, workshops combine classroom, laboratory, and design activities that are both accessible and inspiring. Participants leave with ready-to-teach lessons that bring engineering into biology classrooms, labs, and science clubs.

Aligned with both the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards, the BioBuilder curriculum brings modern context to ideas and content traditionally taught in high school and college classes. At the high school level, BioBuilder has been used in General, Honors, and AP Biology as well as Biotechnology classes. In addition to teacher professional development, BioBuilder will support as many as 19 participating school districts with lab kits available through Carolina Biological Supply Company.

Students will participate in project-based learning through the BioBuilder Idea Accelerator, a program that teaches legitimate biotechnology skill building and data analysis through a team-based approach to creative problem solving and professional quality communication. Interested students may also elect to further pursue their biodesign projects with a dedicated mentor through BioBuilder's out-of-school-time activity, the BioBuilderClub.

This partnership builds on BioBuilder's work in recent years in the Kingsport City Schools, supported by the Eastman Foundation and Carolina Biological Supply Company. In January and July 2019, all the biology teachers at the Dobyns-Bennett High School, as well as teachers from other Kingsport schools and faculty from East Tennessee State University attended BioBuilder Professional Development workshops. Thanks to their training, teachers now plan to provide all 2,500 students at Dobyns-Bennett with hands-on training in synthetic biology over the next four years. After their pilot year, teachers have seen how their students respond to the BioBuilder labs in amazing ways.

Evie LaFollette, Secondary Science Teacher, Kingsport City Schools shared, "We've seen the full spectrum of students doing the BioBuilder labs, and they all enjoy it. They're asking, 'When do we get to do the next one?'"

The EIR grant was awarded to the Niswonger Foundation to fund the Rural Tennessee STEM.LD program. The concept of Learning Design (the "LD" in "STEM.LD") is defined as "the creative and deliberate act of devising new practices, plans of activity, resources and tools aimed at achieving particular educational results in a given context". BioBuilder joins the Niswonger Foundation in the belief that designing student-centered learning ecosystems and pathways can lead to positive student outcomes, from K-12 student achievement to meaningful employment in the workforce post-high school.

BioBuilder is one of a number of partners supporting the Rural Tennessee STEM.LD program. Other educational resources and partners will include cybersecurity experiential opportunities from the University of Alabama at Huntsville; expertise in curriculum design in engineering technology from Purdue University; East Tennessee State University's math, epidemiology, graphics design and computer science programs; the ETSU Research Corporation; and STEM project-based programs including STREAMWORKS, the Marine Advanced Technology in Education for Inspiration and Innovation; and "If I Had a Hammer."

Announcement from the U.S. Department of Education: https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/secretary-devos-announces-new-funding-accelerate-education-innovation-and-empower-teachers-professional-development-options-0

About the Niswonger Foundation

The Niswonger Foundation was established in 2001 to make a positive and sustainable difference in education in Northeast Tennessee. The Niswonger Foundation focuses on removing constraints to educational innovation and problem solving, thus allowing local school systems to better provide for student needs. By building school programs that are research-based and sustainable, the Niswonger Foundation has become a recognized voice for educational reform in the State of Tennessee, while nurturing the next generation of leaders. Learn more: https://www.niswongerfoundation.org/.

About BioBuilder Educational Foundation

Created by an award-winning team at MIT, BioBuilder offers new ways to teach, learn, and explore cutting-edge science and engineering. BioBuilder provides students the chance to integrate biology and engineering through practical, hands-on lessons, club activities, and school-to-work experiences. Teachers learn new methods of teaching that engage and inspire the young scientists in their classrooms.

Learn more: https://biobuilder.org/.

Related link: https://biobuilder.org/

This news story was published by the Neotrope® News Network - all rights reserved.

Awards and Honors, Business, Education and Schools, Free News Articles

BioBuilder Founder and Executive Director Featured as 2020 MWM Trailblazer Award Winner

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Dr. Natalie Kuldell, Founder and Executive Director of BioBuilder, is being featured by Million Women Mentors, an initiative of STEMconnector, the nation's largest professional services organization dedicated to developing a diverse, STEM-ready workforce. In October 2020, Dr. Kuldell was named as one of the 26 winners for the Million Women Mentors (MWM) Trailblazer Awards, celebrating women in STEM who are well-accomplished leaders in their field and demonstrate excellence in the field of mentoring.

Dr. Kuldell is a winner in the STEM Trailblazer 2020 category; this award is for an individual who has made a significant contribution in a STEM field in 2020. She is joined by Kristy Salmon (BP), Lateefah Stanford (BP), Tonya Peeples (Penn State University), Heidi Gold-Dworkin (Little Scientists), Carlotta Arthur (Henry Luce Foundation), Linda Kekelis (STEM Next Opportunity Fund), Ronda Hamm (Corteva) and Kimberly Wright (Discovery Education).

Throughout this year, Dr. Kuldell has led BioBuilder's response to the changes in educational models due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Beginning in March 2020 with the closure of the Learning Lab at LabCentral to outside visitors, BioBuilder transitioned its curriculum to from in-lab and in-person instruction and interactions to provide one-of-a-kind online instruction in synthetic biology.

The pilot program, the Idea Accelerator, relied on the existing BioBuilder textbook and online resources, as well as BioBuilder's BioDesign framework to teach students life science and how to apply that science with an engineer's mindset. Over the course of three weeks, students asynchronously learned from Dr. Kuldell through online lectures about synbio and project design, and synchronously work with a team of peers to brainstorm, design, and present their own ideas to solve problems with novel biotechnologies.

With these adaptations, BioBuilder has been able to support hundreds of students and their teachers with novel content, meaningful social interactions, teamwork experiences, problem-based learning, and professional skill-building. Their online programming has grown to include multiple cohorts of the Idea Accelerator, the Project Development Studio, allowing teams to bring their biodesign projects and further pursue them with the help of an industry mentor, and BioBuilders 6-7-8, a program aimed at fostering interest and engagement of middle school students through interactive lectures and team biodesign projects, as well as free teacher professional development engagements throughout the fall.

About STEMconnector

Founded in 2011, STEMconnector is the leading organization working across all aspects of the STEM community from K-12 to global corporations. A research-driven professional services organization, STEMconnector provides corporate, postsecondary, K-12, nonprofit, and government members with enterprise-wide support to meaningfully develop, execute, and scale their STEM talent strategies. Learn more at http://www.stemconnector.com/.

About BioBuilder

Created by an award-winning team at MIT, BioBuilder offers new ways to teach, learn, and explore cutting-edge science and engineering. BioBuilder provides students the chance to integrate biology and engineering through practical, hands-on lessons, club activities, and school-to-work experiences. Teachers learn new methods of teaching that engage and inspire the young scientists in their classrooms. Visit https://biobuilder.org/ or reach out to info@biobuilder.org for more information.

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Related link: https://biobuilder.org/

This news story was published by the Neotrope® News Network - all rights reserved.