Summer 2000 Professional Development in Review:
Microbes for Hire
August 7-11, 2000
This summer, 20 Maryland middle and high school science teachers attended the Microbes for Hire Workshop at the Center of Marine Biotechnology (COMB). The Microbes for Hire Workshop, sponsored by the Pfizer Foundation, The Foundation for Microbiology, and Bell Atlantic-Maryland, is designed to translate the applied microbial research at COMB into laboratory activities for teachers and students in Maryland. Teachers gained applied laboratory skills and enhanced content knowledge on topics including:
- Bioremediation and the Effectiveness of Biosurfactants
- Bioluminescence and the Application of Biosensors
- Bacteria and Their Relationships in the Marine Environment
- Bacterial Biofilms and Their Relationship to Biodiversity
- Microbial Screening Techniques for Identifying Bioactive Compounds
- The Science of Winogradsky Columns and Marine Sediment
- The Role of Bacterial Biofilms in Biological Filtration for Aquaculture
- Digital Imaging and Microscopy in the Classroom,
The QX3 Computer Microscope by Intel
- Microbes on the Web
Each topic was presented by a COMB scientist or graduate student to provide the essential background of the research and was followed-up by a "hands-on" lab that exposed teachers to new techniques, laboratory materials, and ideas for their classroom. Teachers were given the opportunity to design experiments and test out new techniques as a means of assessment and preparation for classroom follow-up. In addition, teachers were supplied with materials required for successful implementation of each lab activity within their classroom.
A set of winogradsky columns prepared with raw eggs, newspaper, and muck. The nutrients will stimulate the growth of anaerobic organisms that will result in the display of colorful colonies of bacteria along the sides of the tubes.
The simplicity of each lab and the translation of the COMB research were the key features of the Microbes for Hire workshop. The workshop enabled teachers to gain access to new techniques for studying a vital portion of the environment and interact with graduate students and scientists in a world class research setting, the Center of Marine Biotechnology. Teachers left the workshop with a greater understanding of the role of microbes in the environment and how researchers study and develop applied techniques using microbes to better enhance our society on a wide variety of fronts from solving pollution problems to developing new medicine. In addition, teachers will return to the classroom with new activities and lab materials to excite and engage their students in the coming school year.
The methods of instruction range from simple and safe microbial lab techniques to web-based interactive lessons based on academic laboratory research.
The summer workshop will be followed by an after school Microbes for Hire workshop series during the 2000-2001 academic year focusing on participation from Baltimore City Public Schools System science teachers. The goal is to enroll 20 new teachers each semester in the Microbes for Hire after school program leading up to the summer of 2001 workshop.