Would your high school students like to work in a research lab at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington? Would you like to join them?
Most scientists agree that the best way to learn science is by doing it, but hands-on experiences in research laboratories for students under 18 are difficult to come by. Chemicals, infectious agents and genetically engineering organisms can pose serious safety risks deemed unacceptable for students so young. Now the new "Hutch Training Lab" at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC), developed by Beverly Torok-Storb, provides students with a safe environment to do real science, complete with lab benches, equipment and the scientific guidance needed to succeed. This unique space was designed specifically for high school students, and meets all of the environmental health and safety laws in the state of Washington for students under 18 years old.
The Northwest Association for Biomedical Research (NWABR) had many opportunities this past year to bring student scientists to the Training Lab for unique, hands-on experiences, as well as bring lab activities to students in the Puget Sound area and beyond.
Students at the Dynamic DNA workshop this summer learned first-hand how exciting working in the lab can be when they spent two full days at the Training Lab purifying and sequencing DNA (see photo). The workshop was a collaborative effort among NWABR, Institute for Systems Biology (ISB), DigiPen Institute of Technology, and the Washington Innovative Careers Network (WaNIC).
After meeting scientists at the FHCRC, NWABR's 2011 Student Research Fellows learned about DNA and agarose gel electrophoresis in the Training Lab, as part of the Collaborations to Understand Research and Ethics (CURE) program, funded by a Science Education Partnership Award from the NIH.
NWABR's bioinformatics program, Bio-ITEST, brings the exciting discipline of bioinformatics to high school teachers and students. Our Advanced bioinformatics curriculum, Using Bioinformatics: Genetic Research, focuses on DNA barcoding with the cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 (COI) gene. Working in the Training Lab with student interns throughout the 2010-2011 school year made it possible to develop and distribute barcoding lab materials to high school classes in Washington, Oregon, Kansas, and Michigan, with more planned for this school year.
Using the lab is free, though teachers will have to get their students to and from the facility. For more information, to arrange for time in the lab, for a lab host, and to obtain consent forms for parents and students, contact Lori Blake: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The lab is equipped with everything you need to conduct authentic molecular biology experiments. The only thing missing is you and your students!