A $20,000 grant from the APS Foundation will help the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) expand its TGen2School initiative by providing science kits and instruction in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education.
The kits and accompanying instruction for teachers are part of the TGen2School initiative at TGen’s Pathogen Genomics Division – TGen North – in Flagstaff, where some of the world’s top experts in disease-causing microorganisms study everything from valley fever to MRSA and even anthrax and plague.
TGen North’s Bio-SEEK: Bio-Science Education Enrichments Kits Program provides five different types of bioscience education kits for teachers and their students. The goal is improved overall scientific literacy, and a better-prepared bioscience workforce.
The program includes instructional sessions to help educators use the kits to teach such concepts as infectious disease and genomic testing methods, biosafety procedures, bioinformatics, and how DNA is used in forensics, public health and other life sciences.
“These are ideal tools that teachers can use to convey complex concepts in ways students can easily absorb, and it lessens the burden on the pocketbooks of teachers,” said Zsuzsi Kovacs, TGen North’s STEM Education Coordinator. “These kits are built on next-generation science standards and bioscience basics that students need to succeed in the genome-age.”
TGen will provide instruction for teachers during professional development days at TGen North, 3051 W. Shamrell Blvd., southeast of Interstate 17 and the exit to the Flagstaff Pulliam Airport.
“Commercial bioscience kits often contain limited directions, making teaching concepts challenging when teachers already have so much on their plate,” Kovacs said. “With professional development and teacher-friendly directions, educators will be able to adapt them in a way that is best for their students.”
Thanks to the APS Foundation’s grant, the newly developed kits will be provided at no charge through a checkout system available to teachers who have attended the professional training.
TGen2School initiative aligns with the goals of David Engelthaler, TGen North’s Director of Programs and Operations, one of the leaders in STEM education in Flagstaff, which in 2012 became the nation’s first STEM City.
“With initial funding from the Flagstaff Community Foundation (FCF) and others, we have placed a concerted effort into our TGen2School program,” said Engelthaler, a former State Epidemiologist for the State of Arizona. “We are so excited that the APS Foundation has decided to help us. Their grant will allow us to grow and expand our program in a direction that better meets the needs of our teachers.”
The grant to TGen North was one of 15, totaling more than $500,000, made by the Foundation to non-profit organizations throughout Arizona and New Mexico. Of the 30 fastest growing occupations projected through 2016, more than half will require mastery of STEM subjects, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“We at the APS Foundation applaud the efforts of all the organizations who received the grants,” said Julie Coleman, Executive Director of the APS Foundation. “We are pleased to be able to help support and encourage non-profits who engage in promoting STEM education, and other educational efforts, to increase student achievement. Success in education will result in a healthy society, strong economy and robust Arizona.”