HHMI High School Lab Series
Inquiry, discovery, technology, and partnerships with scientists are key pillars in improving science education. With support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Precollege Science Education Program, a discovery-based lab series and professional development workshop was developed based on the Wolbachia-arthropod symbiosis. This program, called Discover the Microbes Within: The Wolbachia Project, is designed for high school biology educators in an effort to modernize biology labs and lesson plans with inquiry, real-world research, biotechnology, microbiology, and symbiosis. The project has four core goals: (1) Engage high school students in nature and real-world research (2) Encourage nationwide participation in the collection and of new scientific data on bacterial endosymbionts (Wolbachia) (3) Enhance student interest in science through an integrative lab series spanning biodiversity to molecular biology (4) Show students what it is like to be a scientist. Discover the Microbes Within is founded on the principle that students want to learn the way science is done, and in so doing, students enhance their understanding of biology and scientific inquiry while collecting reliable data new to the scientific community.
The primary aim is to challenge students in real-world research throughout the calendar year with contemporary scientific exercises and summer research experiences on Wolbachia. The lab modules can be either individually incorporated into daily lesson plans addressing National Science Education Standards or used as a coherent unit progressively emphasizing the nature of a long-term science project throughout the school year. Other opportunities include awards for summer research in a scientific lab, a free loaner equipment program, a DNA sequencing collaboration between high school and the Josephine Bay Paul Center at the Marine Biological Laboratory, and a new website repository for student generated DNA sequences.