What do scientists do, and how do they do it?
The Massachusetts Biotechnology Education Foundation (MassBioEd) helps underrepresented minority middle- and high-school students answer this question through its Aligned Curricular & Career Experiences for Secondary Science Program (ACCESS) at Match Charter Public School in Boston. Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) has pledged to support this program for the next five years.
ACCESS works with life sciences teachers, and guidance and career counselors, to build a community of practice that includes hands-on life science lessons, career exploration days at colleges and pharmaceutical companies, and guest speakers.
“The excitement of authentic science, its relationship to industry research and jobs, and the chance to build on learning from earlier years is missing from most middle and high school classes,” said Michelle Mischke, PhD, Director of Education Programs, MassBioEd. “Through ACCESS we not only provide students with labs and equipment, but also with access to scientists who provide context for what it means to pursue a science career. Our goal for the program is for students to begin to see themselves in STEM fields.”
In its first year, the ACCESS Program reached 520 students in grades 7-10.
Said one Match Charter student, “I was able to gain a wider view on how people in STEM do their jobs. My favorite part of the day was being able to meet new people and engage in biotechnology activities.”
Tufts CTSI researchers are encouraged to get involved with ACCESS by speaking with students and providing in-class support.
“One of our aims is to provide outstanding education, training, and mentoring to advance a diverse clinical and translational research workforce,” said Alice Rushforth, PhD, Executive Director of Tufts CTSI. “Our partnership with MassBioEd gives us an opportunity to help nurture this workforce at a young age by showing students what a career in science might look like, and what they, as scientists, might achieve.”
ACCESS instructors assist Match teachers with preparing and implementing lessons that help students to better understand the curriculum and the world around them. Last year:
- Seventh grade students who participated in an Investigating Photosynthesis lab scored higher on their photosynthesis exam.
- Students in eighth grade used MiniOne electrophoresis units to explore the sizes and charges of molecules in M&M candy dye.
- High school students made their own algae balls to get a closer look at photosynthesis.
This school year’s ACCESS lab topics include measuring with micropipettes, carbon cycling and cellular respiration, and exploring antibiotic resistance.
Tufts CTSI researchers who are interested in getting involved with ACCESS should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the MassBioEd Foundation
The MassBioEd Foundation (MassBioEd) is a 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit organization. Its mission is to build a sustainable life sciences workforce in the region through educational programs that engage and excite teachers, inspire and propel students, and illuminate the pathway from the classroom to careers. Learn more: http://www.massbioed.org
About Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI)
Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute (Tufts CTSI), established in 2008, supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is dedicated to stimulating innovative broadly-engaged team science across the translational research spectrum to improve clinical care and health. Founded by Tufts University and Tufts Medical Center, it also includes other academic institutions (including all the schools of Tufts University, Brandeis University, MIT, Northeastern University; and RAND), the hospitals affiliated with Tufts University School of Medicine, community stakeholders, and various members of the health care industry. Tufts CTSI’s purpose is to accelerate the translation of laboratory and medical research into clinical use, widespread medical practice, and into improved health care delivery and health policy. It connects people to research resources, consultation, and education, and fosters collaboration with scholars of all disciplines and with community members, with the ultimate goal of improving the health of the public. Tufts CTSI is funded by a Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) from the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, award number UL1TR002544.