GREAT workshop enhances high school life sciences education

HudsonAlpha Institute delivers educational outreach program to Auburn area teachers

Huntsville, Ala. and Auburn, Ala. — Science is a discipline in motion; discoveries continually impact how life and life processes are understood and addressed. The perpetual influx of information means life sciences educators face a difficult challenge when it comes to selecting and assimilating current discoveries into meaningful content for students.

The HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, with support from the state of Alabama, has a GREAT solution to help Alabama’s life sciences educators. “Genetic Resources to Empower Alabama Teachers” is a two-day educator workshop to highlight recent scientific findings in a context that resonates for high school students, ” said Neil Lamb, Ph.D., director of educational outreach for HudsonAlpha. The first GREAT workshop is being held on campus at Auburn University, October 16-17. About 120 educators from throughout the region are scheduled to be in attendance.

“The overarching goal is to make the material approachable,” said Lamb. “We’re not simplifying, rather we’re working with educators to deliver lessons that are meaningful to students.” Teachers attending the GREAT program will be given applications based on discoveries that correspond to the mandated course of study. Lamb added that current, relevant information and hands-on exercises relating to health, agriculture and the environment, give educators increased opportunities to engage students in science.

Leader of the Alabama House of Representatives, Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, will be the keynote speaker on October 17. Hubbard strongly backed the proposal that funded the GREAT program. “This program clearly links science knowledge to application.  It’s the kind of study that inspires students to truly envision and prepare for roles the future could hold for them.”

GREAT is available at no cost and is open to teachers at Alabama accredited, public high schools. Teachers who complete the two-day workshop scheduled at the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine, will return to the classroom with student-tested lesson plans, hands-on materials and supplies valued at $400.

Each workshop will incorporate skills and expertise found at the host site; Bruce Smith, V.M.D., Ph.D., director of the Auburn University Research Initiative in Cancer, will be among GREAT presenters. Notably, a special session is being offered during the Auburn workshop to address pre-service teachers.

“This workshop is a unique opportunity for teachers to learn the cool new things happening in the science world, learn how they relate to Alabama course of study, while giving teachers the materials they need to drop this content into their lessons,” said Madelene Loftin, education specialist at HudsonAlpha. “This content applies not only when students take high stakes assessments, but will impact their lives in terms of career opportunities and decisions about medical care.”

Teachers completing the GREAT program will also receive substitute teacher cost reimbursement of $70 per day.

A GREAT workshop is planned for Huntsville in February and efforts are underway for additional programs to include career tech teachers. 

Media Contact: Beth Pugh

About HudsonAlpha: HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology is a nonprofit institute dedicated to innovating in the field of genomic technology and sciences across a spectrum of biological problems. Its mission is three-fold: sparking scientific discoveries that can impact human health and well-being; fostering biotech entrepreneurship; and encouraging the creation of a genomics-literate workforce and society. The HudsonAlpha biotechnology campus consists of 152 acres nestled within Cummings Research Park, the nation’s second largest research park. Designed to be a hothouse of biotech economic development, HudsonAlpha’s state-of-the-art facilities co-locate scientific researchers with entrepreneurs and educators. The relationships formed on the HudsonAlpha campus allow serendipity to yield results in medicine and agriculture. Since opening in 2008, HudsonAlpha, under the leadership of Dr. Richard M. Myers, a key collaborator on the Human Genome Project, has built a name for itself in genetics and genomics research and biotech education, and boasts 26 biotech companies on campus.