FLATE Workshops: An Effective Resource in Meeting Local Training and Educational Demands

FLATE’s vision to provide relevant information on educational best practices and state of the art technologies has been an effective resource in supporting educational and workforce demands of the high performance production and manufacturing community in Florida. As a leader in providing technician training, the Center facilitated several workshops this summer geared to expand the knowledge base of manufacturing and/or related technologies for students and educators at the middle school, high school and post secondary level.

The DNA Fingerprinting and Micropipetting workshop for secondary school teachers developed on the framework of the of National Science Education guidelines, was held in June at Hillsborough Community College (HCC) in Brandon, and involved 17 teachers from Hillsborough County. The driving force behind the workshop was to encourage participants to use DNA based labs in everyday classroom curriculum. Debarati Ghosh, biology and biotechnology instructor and biotechnology program manager at HCC-Brandon said the workshop was designed to simulate human forensic testing, and to discuss a wide range of applications of DNA analysis for genetic analysis. The workshop was well founded in STEM content to promote high-quality, hands-on DNA fingerprinting professional development course for high school teachers.

Teachers Debarati Ghosh and
Beth McCollough prepare for the
 A critical component of the workshop was to foster scientific/technological innovations, and highlight the necessity of scientific literacy and successful scientific inquiry in grades 9-12. “Determining the range of the data, the mean and mode values of the data, plotting the data, developing mathematical functions from the data, and looking for anomalous data are all examples of analyses that students need to learn” Gosh said. To that extent, the workshop emphasized the critical understanding of evidence and data analysis. The hands-on portion of the laboratory was aimed at developing fundamental abilities of micropipetting techniques, as well as the larger framework for developing reasoning, critical thinking, problem-solving skills and conducting scientific investigations. The workshop also focused on reviewing and etablishing adequate knowledge base in biology, chemistry and molecular biology concepts of DNA to support investigation and help develop scientific explanations.

Indeed the workshop was deemed highly resourceful by participants. One hundred percent of the participants agreed, or strongly agreed the workshop was of high value to them, the content was relevant, and that they gained new insights. The same percentage also agreed/strongly agreed they would be interested in follow-up activities, and would recommend the workshop to their colleagues. As pointed out by Ghosh “Science continues to play an essential role in catalyzing the creation of new industries, spawning job growth, and improving the quality of life in the state and throughout the nation. Innovation relies, in part, on students possessing the knowledge, skills, creativity, and foresight to forge new paths for the future.”

In addition to the biotech workshop, FLATE was invited to share its expertise to support the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) camp for Title 1 schools in Pinellas County, FL. Camp STEAM which was primarily a middle school mathematics summer camp was designed to ignite interest in mathematics and/or mathematical applications among middle school students. The camp was held at Pinellas Park Middle School, and involved 108 middle school students and 20 middle school mathematics teachers. At the camp, FLATE played a pivotal role in broadening students’ and educators’ knowledge about high-tech manufacturing, and the educational and career pathways available to them. Campers received in-depth overview of how “stuff is made” through a hands-on activity that required them to innovate, design, test, and market/distribute a prototype of a product. Working in groups of four, students underwent each of the manufacturing processes to sketch out a “new invention.”

At the conclusion of the exercise, campers presented their ideas and explained the integration of STEAM, soft skills and teamwork during the manufacturing process. Danielly Orozco, curriculum coordinator for FLATE who facilitated the FLATE presentation and the manufacturing exercise said “students used their imagination and knowledge of STEAM to work through the assigned tasks. More importantly they learned how adapting to change, respecting and listening to one another are keys to success as well doing a good job.”

For more information on the DNA Fingerprinting and Micropipetting workshop for educators or the STEAM camps contact Dr. Marilyn at barger@fl-ate.org and Danielly Orozco at dorozco@fl-ate.org, or visit http://www.fl-ate.org/.