Med school receives $425,000 grant

Med school receives $425,000 grant South Dakota teachers will soon have the opportunity to learn new ways to make science fun for their students.

A four-year $425,000 grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) will fund programs in which faculty from The University of South Dakota School of Medicine will teach middle school and high school science teachers innovative teaching methods.

In the recent grant announcement by HHMI, USD was one of 35 biomedical research institutions across the country to receive funding to enrich science education in local schools and help attract a broad range of students to biomedical careers. The grant is part of an initiative started by the HHMI to improve precollege science education via alliances with universities.

USD School of Medicine faculty will teach a two-day workshop which will include a molecular biology track on DNA cloning, DNA fingerprinting and a physiology track on reflexes and reactions.

USD Professor Barb Goodman, Ph.D., co-investigator of the grant, is excited about the opportunity to bring these new teaching methods to the teachers in South Dakota.

"I learned science by doing experiments," said Goodman, noting many high school science classes include lectures but limited laboratory experience.

"That is not the same as discovery-based science which is the way scientists do science and it is really fun. We want teachers to let their students know that science is fun by giving them the opportunity to do fun science in the classroom," she said.

Co-investigators will include Professors Bob Noiva and Gerald Yutrzenka. Sally Schempp of Vermillion Middle School will be involved as a facilitator.

Noiva noted that the grant provides opportunities for instruction and teacher access to lab equipment for their classrooms.

Workshops will be offered at no cost to teachers and those who participate will have access to traveling molecular biology laboratory kits and traveling health science kits to use in the classroom.

The grant will also expand an existing molecular biology summer session for teachers and students. It will also fund the continuation of the current InSTEP Program. These workshops are held each summer at USD.

"It (the grant) provides high school students and teachers opportunities to be well-versed in molecular biology, science education and it offers students information making them aware of health professions and available opportunities," said Yutzrenka.

HHMI, which awarded schools in 25 states grants totaling $12.7 million, has made nearly $150 million in grants awards to help improve science education at the elementary and secondary school level. The grants help the institutions develop partnerships with neighboring schools and share their specialized labs and highly trained researchers with the community. These precollege efforts are part of the Institute's larger grants program � the biggest private initiative in U.S. history to enhance the quality of science education. Since 1988, HHMI has granted $709 million, primarily for science education from preschool through postgraduate training.

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