Presentation on theme: "XII Congress PABMB 2013 Presentation by JORGE E. ALLENDE Puerto Varas, November 9, 2013."— Presentation transcript:
XII Congress PABMB 2013 Presentation by JORGE E. ALLENDE Puerto Varas, November 9, 2013
Teaching concepts of Molecular Biology and Genomics to high school students using portable laboratories in several Latin American Countries Jorge E. Allende 1, Pilar Reyes 1, Raúl Aguirre 1, Ana Victoria Lizano 2, James Karkashian 2, Alicia Gónzalez 3, Claudia Segal 3. 1 Fac. Medicina, Universidad de Chile 2 Escuela de Biología, Universidad de Costa Rica 3 Instituto de Fisiología Celular, UNAM, México El laboratorio portátil se puede acarrear en unas maletas con ruedas especialmente adaptadas por Dr. Raúl Aguirre. Todo el material puede trasladarse en el porta equipaje de un automóvil corriente.
The Latin American Network of Biological Sciences (RELAB) started in 1975. Original emphasis – promotion of Post Graduate Training in Biological Sciences in Latin America. Since 2000 – interested in teaching of Molecular Biology in Secondary Education International Courses for Biology Teachers in Chile, Argentina, Costa Rica. Courses included practical experiments Limitations Lack of availability of equipment to carry out experiments in modern biology in most secondary schools. Lack of experience of secondary school teachers executing in doing or planning experiments in molecular biology.
RELAB meeting in Santiago in August 2011 – Grant Proposal to Wellcome Trust to organize courses in 3 countries for biology teachers in secondary schools to teach through theoretical lectures and practical experiments the four fundamental principles of molecular biology. Approval of project for USD$ 48.000 by Wellcome Trust (2012). Courses handled through leading State Universities in México, Costa Rica and Chile. (UNAM, Univ. Of Costa Rica, Univ. of Chile. Teachers that approve these courses can request from the University the visit of a portable laboratory accompanied by graduate students in order to allow the secondary school students to perform experiments. The Wellcome Trust Grant purchased the equipment for 3 portable laboratories, one for each country. During 2012, RELAB organized courses in México, Costa Rica and Chile for secondary school teachers. During 2013 we have been bringing the portable laboratories to the schools where these trained teachers work. The results of this initiative is the topic of this report.
General Objective of the Courses for Teachers To contribute to the improvement of the teaching-learning process in molecular biology and genomics through theoretical and practical professional development of secondary school biology teachers. Courses are designed to develop four fundamental concepts of molecular biology and genomics. This approach provides the teachers with access to equipment and materials used in modern biology research so that the teachers can share their experience with their students through the use of the inquiry methodology.
Specific Objectives Understanding the following four fundamental concepts. The Fundamental Concepts Fundamental Concept 1 : The genetic identity of species and individuals is determined by the information present in the structure of DNA of the species and individuals. Fundamental Concept 2 : Most cells of a multicellular organisms contain the same genetic information as the total organism and yet cells have different morphology and function and express different proteins. This is achieved through the regulation of gene expression.
Fundamental Concept 3: The genetic code that is used to translate the genetic information to generate the proteins present in cells is practically universal for all organisms that live in our planet and the translation machinery present in different organisms is also very similar. These two facts are the basis for modern genetic engineering since genetic material that is introduced into a living cell of a different species can be correctly expressed in the cell that receives it.
Fundamental Concept 4: Darwinian evolution can be observed at the molecular level through the study of the sequences of genes and their corresponding protein products in different related species. Molecular genomics can provide information regarding the time scale in which the different phylogenetic branches emerge in this evolutionary process.
The portable lab in Chile is really portable as you see that it fits in two suitcases with wheels. It fits in the luggage space of a normal car
The Mexican Portable Lab «Without the Suitcase»
In Santiago between May & September of 2013, we were able to conduct visits to 9 different high schools with the portable laboratories. Each visit included 4 different sessions of experiments that consisted of a total of 16 – 20 hours of work carried out in one to two weeks duration. This was a real achievement because during those months we had several student demostrations in which the students took control of the schools. One of the establishments was still under the control of the students in the middle of September and we could not do the visit. In Mexico and Costa Rica 5 and 3 visits, respectively have been performed.
The experiments related to concept 1 included PCR genetic characterization and digestion of DNA with different restriction enzymes. Related to concept 2, we fractioned proteins using SDS polyacylamide gels.
Related to Fundamental Concept 3, the students transformed E. coli with the gene coding for GFP under the control of an inducer. The expression of green fluorescence in the agar plates grown in the presence of the inducer shows the correct expression of a gene from another species. Related to Fundamental Concept 4, the students enter the NCBI* gene bank and run a blast analysis with the nucleotide sequences of different genes present in several species. *National Center for Biotechnological Information
Evaluation In the Chilean visits to schools all the students that carried out the experiments with the portable laboratories were asked to fill out a questionnaire with 5 questions. We collected 175 replies. In general the responses were very favourable about the experiments as facilitating the learning process and making the applications of this knowledge much clearer. Some samples of the replies are given.
Question 1 What is your opinion of this opportunity to learn certain fundamental concepts of molecular biology by participating in theoretical classes and laboratory experiments using portable laboratories? Answers I think it was a great experience because thanks to this, it is possible to apply what we learned in school and it helped me to consider what I might choose for a future career (Matías Benjamín Carreño Díaz – Instituto Nacional). This was an opportunity which was very enjoyable and entertaining in which they taught us very interesting things; It was great to use equipment and materials that I sincerely do not believe our school could afford to buy, so, it was very good (María Fernanda Cárcamo – Colegio Adventista de Santiago Poniente).
Question 2 Do you think that this manner of teaching helps the students to understand more clearly the daily reports in the news related to transgenic animals, stem cells and cancer mutations? Answers Yes, because nowadays there is much talk about these subjects and it is very interesting to discover about this technology and that we actually did something similar in our school. (Tiare Alvarado, Instituto Cumbres de Condores de Renca). This type of teaching with laboratory classes, in ordinary schools with ordinary students is very important, since it gives us the opportunity to better understand concepts that many times are impossible to understand in a a short time. (Sianesuaci Reyes, San Fernando School).
Question 3 Do you consider it important to extend this type of hands-on approach to the teaching of biology and to other scientific disciplines in other schools? Answers Yes, this method is much more complete and entertaining and I believe that if the students are asking for quality education, you should give them things like this. (Rodrigo Vidal Montero, Liceo Manuel de Salas). I believe that there is a potential in all different types of school. For example to have laboratory sessions not only in biology but also in other areas of science and in the humanities. (Franco Medina, Liceo de Aplicación).
Question 4 Do you recommend any modification of the procedures used in these experiments? What difficulties did you encounter in performing these experiments? Answers Not real modifications but my advice to use the times when we are waiting for the PCR or the electroforesis to run, we could do another experiment or have a period of questions and answers. (Fabian Catalán Micado. Instituto Bicentenario Cumbre de Condores de Renca). To look for more finantial support from the government so that we can have more equipment and you could expand and extrapolate this experience to other parts of our country (Matias Pinchetti Veas, Instituto Nacional).
Question 5 Do you think that this experience could motivate you to consider a scientific career? Before this course, did you ever meet personally a scientist or a doctoral student in sciences? Answers I believe that thanks to this laboratory many of us have a clearer idea what career to undertake (María Beatriz Torres, San Fernando School). This experience greatly motivated me. Previously I did not know any scientist and I found the experience very enriching. Belén Medina. School Carlos Oviedo Cavada. 85% of students had never met personally scientist or a graduate student.
Questionaire for Biology Teachers The biology teachers of the 9 schools that received the visits of the portable labs were asked to answer a questionaire with 9 questions. Some of the questions and replies are here presented. Question 3 What effects have you noticed in your students that you can relate to the visit of the portable laboratory to your school? Answers In the first place it has had a great impact in the motivation of the students for this topic and has opened for them the possibility to choose scientific careers, particularly among the students in their last year of secondary school. We also have made an assessment of the students’s knowledge of biology in group that had the opportunity of using the portable labs and in a group that did not have this chance. In this assessment the students that had done the experiments performed significantly better than the other students. Teacher Carolina Orellana of the OZANAN School.
Answers After the visit, the students have started research microprojects in which they applied and interrelated all the concepts learned. They shared their research with their classmates that also had participated in the experiments. Presently, we are preparing a research project for a science fair of our school Foundation. The idea of the project was directly generated from the experiments that they did. The research is related to the application of molecular biology to forensic medicine and the students are now working with biochemists of the Police Detective Department. Teacher Isabel Bravo-Carlos Oviedo Cavada School.
Question 5 How important was the presence of the postgraduate students in facilitating the success of the experiments performed with the portable laboratory? Answers It was essential for the correct execution of the experiments. In addition it allowed the postgraduate students to share with the secondary school students some of their professional and personal experiences. All of this generated a very positive and rich environment in the classroom, which could not have occurred in a normal class. Teacher Javiera Soto – Liceo de Aplicación.
Question 8 What other comments would you like to add about the course that used portable laboratories and about the relation that has been generated between the biology teachers and the scientists of the University of Chile? Answers It has been very gratifying for me to have had the opportunity to live through this experience, initially, in the course to join other biology teachers, and later to have been able to interact with the different scientists that took part in the course. To have been able to perform experiments that I was not able to do when I studied for my degree, but which I had been trying to explain as part of a high school curriculum. Finally to have had this experience brought to our school and to be able to share it with my students has been great. This experience should be repeated in other schools and in other cities of our country. Teacher María Jesús Barrientos, Instituto Nacional.
Survey of Postgraduate Students that accompanied the portable labs Question 2 Do you consider that it was worthwhile for doctoral or master students to participate in an activity such as this? Do you believe that this experience could be useful in your future career? Answers As I mentioned before, I think this experience is very beneficial because it provides us with a capacity to communicate with and in the managing of students that you cannot acquire anywhere else in a doctoral program. This experience also gives us the opportunity to speak about our research work with persons that do not use the scientific jargon like the teachers and students. This is very important because as future scientists we need to inform the general society about our work and its relevance. Sandra Moreira. Doctoral Student of Biomedical Sciences Program. For me, the experience was excellent, It was very rewarding to participate in an activity with school kids. I felt that I was making a small contribution to the education of this country and that this way I am paying back all the help that I have received through my academic training. María Graciela Delgado.
Question 5 Please add any other comment that you wish to communicate. Answers I suggest that participation in this activity be opened to a broader community, bigger than graduate students. In my case, I am already in possession of my doctoral degree and therefore, I am no longer a student. Nevertheless, I would like to continue participating in the future initiatives. You should at least consider this possibility. If you accept me, I am very willing to continue supporting this wonderful initiative. Sofía Sepúlveda Ph.D. Thank you for the initiative. I believe that this way we can improve significantly the education of our children. It is a beautiful experience that gets you out of the daily routine and makes you aware of the educational surroundings. María Graciela Delgado. I think that we could prepare some power points or videos to explain better some of the practical experiments. This would make it easier for the students to understand the techniques and have more dynamic exchange. Personally, in some of the schools, I brought some power points to explain each of the experiments. This turned out to be a very positive experience. Paula Bustamante.
INTEREST IN THE USA The US. National Science Foundation has supported a program that gives graduate fellowships to Ph. D. and Master Students that requires the students to dedicate part of their time to help primary and secondary science education www.NSF GK-12.orgwww.NSF GK-12.org This program sent a group of 8 microbiology graduate students from Tennessee to Chile to observe what we are doing with portable laboratories.
CONCLUSIONS 1.The RELAB initiative in Molecular Biology is being tested in 3 countries in Latin America (México, Costa Rica and Chile) with promising results. The use of portable laboratories and graduate student monitors help to solve the problems of lack of laboratory equipment in secondary schools and lack of training of biology teachers in experimental work. 2.This initiative is expanding to Uruguay and probably will be introduced in Perú next year. 3.More professional assessment of the impact of this approach on student learning is necessary before conclusions can be drawn. 4.However, it seems possible that the use of simple portable laboratories could greatly improve the learning of science at the secondary school level and help to recapture the interest of youth in science.