Incorporating a course-based research experience in high school and community college courses in Southeast Nebraska

Centered around an accessible and generally well-loved companion animal, dogs, this project will increase scientific literacy and engagement with science and technology by high school and college students and their teachers. A summer workshop for biology and agriculture teachers will focus on the content and training in laboratory techniques to implement the canine course-based research experience. Canine (K-9) kits containing all the supplies and equipment needed for the activity will be available for teachers to check out and use in their classrooms. To directly connect biotechnology to the student’s lives, students will collect DNA samples from their own pets as they engaged in the course-based research project aimed to examine the role a dog’s genes play in its social behavior. This project provides a model for supporting high school teachers, including those in resource-limited areas, as they incorporate new engaging curricula. It also serves as a model for partnering with industry and other organizations to increase awareness, knowledge, and skills related to biotechnology careers important to developing a competitive STEM workforce.

This project will extend the capacity building and infrastructure established over the past five years that has led to Southeast Community College (SCC) offering three stackable credentials in biotechnology. Within the context of biotechnology, authentic research experiences developed in collaboration with industry have the potential to attract high school student interest in this high-growth field. This project will leverage existing partnerships with Nebraska’s regional bioscience industry and educational associations to expand implementation of such a research experience, offering insight into the rules of life in dogs. Ultimately, it is expected that outreach activities targeted to high school and SCC students will foster an interest in biotechnician careers in the region and greater Nebraska. Graduates from SCC’s biotechnology program will be prepared to work in a regulated environment and fill the need for middle-skilled technicians, critical to the Nebraska and global economy.

Project PI: 
Misty Wheling
Host Organization: Southeast Community College
Other Collaborators: 
Tracy Niday, PhD, CoPI, Southeast Community College;  Gabrielle Johnson, Co-PI, southeast Community College
Grant number: DUE 2202070
Project Contact Info: 
Lincoln NE