TCC offers science school
BY SARA PLUMMER World Staff Writer
Thursday, June 17, 2010
6/17/10 at 10:00 AM
Teachers became students this week as high school and middle school science instructors put on lab coats, safety glasses and latex gloves to learn lab experiments with new equipment that they can take into their classrooms in the fall.
Tulsa Community College has offered the three-day biotechnology summer academies for teachers and students previously, but this year the high school science teachers who participate can keep the equipment.
Funded through the National Institutes of Health, the Oklahoma IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — the stimulus package — the workshop will let each teacher acquire nearly $4,000 worth of lab equipment and materials.
Teachers said that helps schools that have little or no money budgeted for science classes.
Diana Nunes, a workshop participant and science chairwoman at East Central High School, said her school has no budget for science equipment in the coming year.
"I paid out of pocket last year. We had to keep labs extremely simple," Nunes said.
Having thousands of dollars worth of equipment and materials makes a huge difference, she said.
"Now we can do real science."
The high school teachers complete three labs that include chromatography, DNA electrophoresis and ELISA, a test that detects the presence of certain antigens or antibodies.
The workshops, which are offered several times a year, are led by Diana Spencer, TCC's biotechnology program director, who taught high school science for 22 years.
Mark Hamilton, a biology teacher at Collinsville High School, said having Spencer lead the workshops really helps.
"She knows where we come from and knows what we need," he said. "It's invaluable instruction. She teaches methods we can pass on to students."
Gregg Moydell, who teaches science at Fort Gibson High School, said the experiments and equipment would let students get a taste of what working in biotechnology would be like.
"This is invaluable to me, the hands-on experiments that will pique the interest of students," he said. "Any type of program that will get kids excited is worth a teacher's time."
Before the federal stimulus money was awarded, teachers or schools could only borrow equipment and materials. With the stimulus funds, TCC was able to buy the equipment for this year's participants.
So far, 29 teachers from 24 school districts have completed the workshops. The latest group of 11 teachers will finish on Thursday and take the equipment back to their high schools: East Central, Hale and Memorial in Tulsa; Union Intermediate; Caney Valley; Chouteau; Frontier; Fort Gibson; Kiefer; Collinsville and Pryor.
Being on the other side of the classroom doesn't seem to be a problem for the science teachers.
"They're the best students. They have a good time," Spencer said, adding that they're motivated despite budget constraints and growing class sizes. "We respect the secondary teachers for their impact on society and students," she said.
Sara Plummer 581-8465
Diana Spencer (center), director of Tulsa Community College's biotechnology program, demonstrates the electrophoresis lab experiment to Tulsa-area science teachers. ZACH GRAY/Tulsa World
Sean Murray (from left) of Memorial High School, Greg Pate of Pryor High School and Joe Lierly of Kiefer High School look on as Diana Spencer, director of Tulsa Community College's biotechnology program, demonstrates an electrophoresis experiment that makes DNA profiles. Each teacher who completes TCC's summer workshop will receive $4,000 worth of lab equipment and materials from TCC. ZACH GRAY/Tulsa World
Science teachers Mark Hamilton (from left) of Collinsville High School and Gregg Moydell of Fort Gibson High School perform an electrophoresis lab experiment as part of Tulsa Community College's biotechnology academy.
Gregg Moydell practices with lab equipment that he will take back to his classroom. He's one of 29 teachers to participate in TCC's summer science academy this year.ZACH GRAY/Tulsa World