In the Scientific Education Partnership program (SEP), scientific mentors select teachers they would like to partner with from the applicant pool in late March/early April. Mentors work with their teachers to design a hands-on lab activity related to their mentor’s research that they then conduct during the week they visit their mentor’s lab. The activity is typically a mock set up using experimental techniques that are a part of your regular workflow (miniprep, PCR, running gels, etc.). Teachers are also highly encouraged to participate in one of the lab’s group meetings.
Mentors also learn about current issues in science education from teachers. We encourage mentors to visit their partner teacher’s classroom during the school year as teachers implement molecular biology labs with their students.
The 2020 SEP mentor schedule:
May 16: Introductory meeting (3 hours)
July 13-17: Teachers work with mentors in the lab (5 days)
July 24: Poster session (2 hours)
Note that teachers’ schedules may vary — please read the applicant information for exact dates.
During your SEP mentorship, you will:
Teachers learn the basics of working with DNA in a 5-day session prior to joining you in the lab. They practice pipetting and gain familiarity with bacterial transformation, restriction enzyme digests and gel electrophoresis. SEP emphasizes hands-on learning, so please give your teacher the opportunity to participate actively in experiments.
Example activities include molecular biology procedures, such as plasmid mini-preps, ELISAs or PCR. It is important they understand why they are doing the procedures and how those procedures relate to the big picture for your lab or the questions you are exploring.
SEP teachers truly enjoy their immersion in a research lab. Performing bench science, interacting with the group members and attending lab meetings broadens their understanding of how scientists interact, and how they discuss different experimental approaches and make sense of their findings.
Both scientists and science educators are professionals with much to learn from one another. We hope you use your mentorship opportunity to learn about strategies for teaching scientific ideas, as well as learning more about education in general.
The new Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are based on a three-part framework that interweaves big themes, specific core content or discipline-specific knowledge, and common inquiry-related practices used in science and engineering. Washington is one of many collaborating states adopting NGSS as the framework for setting learning performance standards and expectations for each grade level. You can familiarize yourself with these standards by visiting the Next Generation Science site.