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Teachers don lab coats, goggles and gloves, and get hands-on biotechnology lessons during STLCC’s Bio-Bench Workshop.

STLCC’s Bio-Bench Workshop Will Extend Biotechnology’s Reach

Teachers don lab coats, goggles and gloves, and get hands-on biotechnology lessons during STLCC’s Bio-Bench Workshop.

School is officially out, but that won’t keep 15 science teachers away from class.

And thanks to a $25,000 grant from the Monsanto Fund, financing for the weeklong class – called the Bio-Bench Workshop – won’t be a barrier.

The Bio-Bench Workshop for teachers will be conducted July 30-Aug 3 at St. Louis Community College’s Center for Plant and Life Sciences at the Bio-Research Development and Growth Park, which is located on the campus of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, 1005 N. Warson Road.

“This is the third time that the Monsanto Fund has stepped up and been the sponsor for this project,” said Richard Norris, Ph.D., center director. “Receiving this funding shows they’re happy with the results we’ve gotten from the other teacher workshops and student learning opportunities. It’s validation of the work we’ve done previously.”

The Bio-Bench Workshop advances learning about biotechnology in two ways. First, eighth- through 12th-grade science teachers or specialists participate in a weeklong, lab-based professional development experience.

The teachers, taught hands-on lessons by the center’s faculty and staff, ultimately share their experiences with their students in the fall. In addition to instruction, teachers also receive the option of three graduate workshop credits through Lindenwood University, a $500 stipend if they attend the entire week and provide an approved lesson plan, and $500 in lab supplies and equipment.

A group of teachers go to work on a biotechnology project as part of STLCC’s Bio-Bench Workshop.

Second, the grant enables 400 students to participate in a daylong, lab-based experience that raises their awareness about biotechnology in the region and opportunities for employment.

Lee Douangkeomany, the center’s education outreach specialist, will lead this year’s workshop and also will visit area schools to present lessons. The student portion of the workshop takes place during the upcoming school year.

The theme for this year’s program is “CRISPR and Friends.” CRISPR – short for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats – is the bacterial defense system that forms the basis for genome editing technology. Researchers hope to use this technology to correct mutations and treat genetic causes of disease.

Douangkeomany said participants will have a lesson on DNA extraction, among other topics.

A limited number of workshop spaces are still open; teachers from public and private schools in STLCC’s service area are invited to participate.

To request an application and learn more about the workshop, contact Douangkeomany at 314-513-4950 or odouangkeomany@stlcc.edu.