Cornell Receives Grant for K-12 'Classroom in a Test Tube'
The Advancing Secondary
Science Education with Tetrahymena (ASSET) program at Cornell University has won a five-year,
$1.25 million Science Education Partnership
Award (SEPA) grant from the National
Institutes of Health.
The ASSET program, which was established in 2009, "develops science
educational materials that use live Tetrahymena, a single-celled protozoan, to
address key biology concepts," according to a news release from the university.
More than 13,000 students in 29 states have already used Tetrahymena-based
science modules, and ASSET will use this new grant "to develop hands-on modules
introducing elementary and middle school students to biological concepts
ranging from cell structure and function to cellular reproduction to genetics
and evolution," to expand its support for high school student research projects
using Tetrahymena and to develop science education modules about the
relationship between science and society.
ASSET provides the modules at no charge. "We are particularly
interested in providing materials for teachers at under-resourced schools
serving students traditionally underrepresented in science and science related
careers," said Donna Cassidy-Hanley, a senior research associate in the
Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Cornell and ASSET co-principal
investigator, in a prepared statement. ASSET's co-principal investigator and
grant recipient is Ted Clark, professor of microbiology and immunology at
Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine and director of the NIH-funded
Tetrahymena Stock Center, the national repository for Tetrahymena.
One of ASSET's upcoming Tetrahymena-based science modules will demonstrate
the effects of smoke and alcohol on cilia, which are "tiny hairlike organelles
found on the surface of many types of cells, including Tetrahymena and cells
lining the human lung, where cilia remove dirt and mucus and help to maintain
normal lung function," according to the university. Students in biology and
health classes will use the module to "investigate the effects of smoke on the
ciliary activity of live Tetrahymena, using provided smoke extract that was
collected by bubbling cigarette smoke and electronic cigarette vapor through
Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].