High school and middle school teachers use summer to develop stem cell lesson plans.

At CIRM, we have developed programs that try to capture and train budding young scientific minds starting in the upper reaches of k-12 schools, through undergrad college, graduate work and post doctoral training. So, we are thrilled when one of our partner institutions takes on that challenge with a new robust effort.

Piner High teacher Heather Benson practices micropipetting.

Piner High teacher Heather Benson practices micropipetting.

The Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Marin County conducted two programs this month to empower local school teachers to build stem cell science into their lesson plans for the coming year. Both initiatives asked the teachers to give up three days of their summer vacation. The Buck’s Julie Mangada spearheaded the initiative.

Twelve middle school teachers from Marin participated in “STEAM Engine 2015,” in which they created an outline for a curriculum unit on how cells work together and process sensory information. If they teach that outline this fall for a two-four-week period they will get $200 per class for supplies and a bonus $700 stipend in the program partnered with the Marin County Office of Education.

In addition, three high school teachers from neighboring Sonoma County attended a three-day externship to develop integrated lesson plans on the theme: “How have past discoveries built the foundation for stem cell research to cure disorders in the present.” All three teach at Piner High. One, Judy Barcelon, described what she took away from the three days:

“I became inspired to challenge my students with higher level science concepts so they can understand how aging and disease happened on a cellular level.”

The three teachers and their students will work together this fall as a team to create a timeline of technical advances while learning the function of those techniques. They will then create research proposals to foster understanding of one specific disease. The activities will culminate on the CIRM-organized international Stem Cell Awareness Day October 14 with a presentation by Buck’s Mangada as well as someone from CIRM.

The local Press Democrat ran an article about the program last week.

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