Bioeyes Institute 2011: A small powerful community
posted by: acarr
Today is the third day of the Bioeyes Institute 2011. It’s a small group this year (~7 teachers), but it’s been a good week. I have been working with the modern lab, cloning a fluorescent gene (the GENO project). It’s been kind of beneficial to have a small group…the discussions are good, the lab goes smoothly. All this could be due to the fact that we (the grad fellows) have one year experience with GENO. However, the small group atmosphere has essentially allowed for “one-on-one” assistance during the lab, and everyone is somewhat “connected,” like a small community of modern scientists.
The success so far is that we had 7 of the 8 PCRs work! We had the teachers try the traditional way of adding each reagent (Buffer, dNTPs, Taq, Primers, DNA, etc), and we also had them do a PCR with a commercial mastermix that already included most of the reagents. Both ways worked, however, the mastermix PCR produced much more PCR product. (We are considering this for future GENO weeks).
This morning, we did the ligation and transformation steps. Normally, this would be spread out to two days, but we had a “double lab” due to lack of time. Tomorrow, we’ll see if everyone’s transformations worked. One thing we did differently is that we put the transformed cells in a shaker (my lab), and shaked the cells at 200rpm for two and half hours. This speeds up the growth of the transformed cells, which normally grow slowly overnight without shaking. After the shaking, we plated the cells onto agar plates.
The community goes beyond the modern lab though. Lunch has been a great time to talk with the Bioeyes participants. I’ve learned that one teacher has a daughter that does modern lab work, and she is now asking her daughter more questions about her DNA work. I’ve learned investment strategies from another (stock market), and the workings of fifth grade education from another. And, I’ve been able to share somethings with others about graduate life and research. It’s been quite a diversity, but the connections made this week have been great.
I like the small group atmostphere, and I’m wondering how to incorporate that into future GENO works. Although it’s normally one grad fellow for 12-25 students in the classroom during the school year, we may can have team leaders for different sections of the class..and have the class learn in groups, rather than sitting with the whole class. I know that another university does this for their GK-12 project (i.e., assign team leaders), They invite the “team leaders” to the university to see the lab, prior to the classroom project. Something to think about…