Science Courses for the Next Generation

Posted on May 6, 2010  Comments (3)

During the last three years, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has recruited 44 colleges and universities across the country to join its Science Education Alliance (SEA), which is changing how freshmen learn about science by providing them with an authentic, classroom-based research experience. Now professors from three schools offering the SEA course will help create the next generation of research-based courses that will extend the program’s reach to upperclassmen.

These “SEA sabbaticals” are another step toward HHMI’s long-term goal of making the SEA a resource for science educators nationwide. When HHMI unveiled the SEA program in 2007, it committed $4 million over four years to the development and rollout of the Alliance’s first course: the National Genomics Research Initiative. That year-long course has enabled freshmen to make real discoveries by doing research on phage, which are viruses that infect bacteria. The research-based laboratory course provides beginning college students with a true research experience that is teaching them how to approach scientific problems creatively and will hopefully solidify their interest in a career in science.

The freshmen students in the SEA course work closely with faculty to design experiments and make scientific discoveries. Many say the experience has changed their view of science. But it soon became apparent that one set of courses would not be enough to continue challenging students as they progressed through college. So HHMI decided to look for creative solutions to that problem.

HHMI invited the 27 schools currently participating in the SEA to apply, and three were accepted to develop new courses. These new projects are focused on designing a curriculum that will pick up where the virus genomics class ends.

Faculty from Cabrini College in Radnor, Pennsylvania, will develop a cellular and molecular biology course in which students will examine phage genes and determine which are essential for the virus’s survival. In a biochemistry course, students will purify and characterize the proteins produced by the genes to determine their function.

University of Louisiana at Monroe’s team will create three modules that could be used in several courses for juniors and seniors. In one, they will create lessons in which students develop methods to determine how their phages reproduce after they enter bacteria. Students would look at genetic markers to determine how phages should be classified into related “clusters” in a second module. Students taking the third course would explore the best way to determine whether genes are essential to the survival of the virus.

University of Puerto Rico, Cayey faculty will create a course to help students examine and characterize various phage proteins. Proteins of interest include those that make up the virus’s protective coating, and those that are activated once infection has begun.

HHMI continue to fund huge amounts of great work in science.

Full press release: Science Education Alliance Builds Research Courses for the Next Generation

Related: $60 Million for Science Teaching at Liberal Arts CollegesHHMI Expands Support of Postdoctoral Scientists$600 Million for Basic Biomedical ResearchHoward Hughes Medical Institute Takes Big Open Access Step

3 Responses to “Science Courses for the Next Generation”

  1. Anonymous
    May 7th, 2010 @ 5:27 am

    Science studies are very costly in our country. Also the amount of money invested in research and development is also mere. US, Europe, China and Other Western countries are way ahead in this regard

  2. Netter
    May 8th, 2010 @ 7:26 pm

    Just like in Indonesia, the new students in the program of cooperation with other faculty to design an experiment and make scientific discoveries. Unfortunately, they only obtained funds from individuals, not from government, maybe that’s what distinguishes the Indonesian students with students in other countries. Not occurred to them to cooperate with the agency or organization capable of providing more funding for their research. The main problem is also contained in the government’s education program which is not even in all regions. Probably the same thing in the feeling by some developing countries like Indonesia. Sorry, My English gramar is very problematic. 🙂

  3. Tanja
    June 4th, 2010 @ 12:36 am

    science courses are very costly…in our country its too much costly..the amount of money invested in research and development is also more.Now professors from three schools offering the SEA course will help create the next generation of research-based courses that will extend the program’s reach to upperclassmen.

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