THE SCIENCE EXPRESS - Mobile Bioscience Laboratory Program
To engage and excite students about science through hands on activities with research level equipment and facilities.
Goals and Outcomes
- To provide elementary, middle and high school educators across the state with current information, teaching techniques and hands-on experience in biotechnology through relevant, hands-on, inquiry-based experiments that are also fun.
- To generate interest in and excitement for bioscience in elementary, middle and high school students, encouraging them to choose bioscience careers that meet the critical need for qualified employees.
- To generate public understanding, enthusiasm, and support for bioscience.
- To develop a Strategic Alliance for Bioscience Research and Education that leverages Minnesota’s Bioscience community, and MnSCU’s capacity to support statewide bioscience outreach to invite, engage, and inspire Minnesota’s future.
To succeed, the truck-based and workshop curriculum must meet two critical criteria:
- Conform to Minnesota’s education standards.
- Engage and excite the teachers with bioscience activities they want and need to learn in the context of standards.
Sixty-two percent of MN schools have fewer than 100 students in their graduating class, representing a significant challenge to providing the necessary infrastructure for Bioscience training.
Science curriculum in these schools is often instructor-limited with a lone teacher responsible for teaching modern biology, chemistry and physics
The Science Express will visit 20-25 schools per year. It will spend one week at a middle school or high school campus (grades 5-12) before moving on to the next school.
It will host professional development workshops for teachers during the summer months
The mobile unit will operate according to a schedule developed in collaboration with participating schools and will build on best practices of other states’ programs – some with more than 15 years of history.
Students will be able to:
- Purify DNA from kiwi, strawberry or banana
- Measure their hair thickness by laser diffraction
- Solve a crime using DNA profiling
- Test their hand strength or record their EKG
- Use oil-eating bacteria to clean up an “oil spill”
- And many others
Activity Summary 5-8 Grades
The following equipment is available for students to use:
- Thermal Cycler (for Polymerase Chain reaction)
- Gel Electrophoresis units
- Benchtop centrifuges
- Dry baths (for temperature control)
- Vernier LabQuest units plus multiple probes) at each station
Can the Science Express visit my school?
Our pilot proposal focused on central Minnesota with a service area approximately defined as within one hour’s driving time of St. Cloud or Willmar.
How Do I Schedule the Science Express?
At this point, the fall schedule is full. Spring 2010 dates are nearly gone and additional requests will be met on a first-come, first-served basis.
How about next year?
We anticipate significant demand for the Science Express. Priority scheduling will be given to schools who have one or more teachers attend aprofessional development workshop that introduces the capabilities and activities available on the Science Express. Workshops will be held during the summer of 2010 and registration will begin early next year.
The trailer is 53-feet long
The lab area is 16’ x 22’ or about 350 sq ft
The conference area is 10’ x 16’ or 160 sq ft
The Science Express can accommodate up to 36 students (requires reconfiguration to eight work stations), but the standard configuration is six stations (up to 30 students)
MnSCU BioScience Initiative provided the Seed Grant ($200,000)
Medtronic donated the trailer ($300,000)
Casework done by Innovative Laboratory Systems ($30,000)
Workshops supported by a WIRED grant ($50,000)
Morgan Family Foundation ($50,000)
Ridgewater Community College, Anoka-Ramsey Community College, Minneapolis Community and Technical College, St. Cloud Technical College