These Programs Want Kids To Be Bioengineers And Scientists
A pigment-producing bacteria made with an Amino engineer with a kit that includes a DNA program from coral. The kit was used in the Amino bioproduction lab. (Image courtesy of Amino Labs, 2016)
Amino Labs is on a mission to make entry level genetic engineering education accessible to teachers, students and the general public around the world. Bio Builder is a non profit organization using real world engineering problems to teach life science to kids. They want to create an environment for teachers and to inspire kids become scientists that can help solve the world’s challenges through science.
In early October 2016, Amino Labs and Bio Builder launched a 100,000 k bioengineering challenge to inspire 100,000 kids to do virtual (and actual) bioengineering in 100 days. “ Genetic engineering affects more than a billion people every day and is a core part of our society. Yet only a tiny fraction of the global population know what genetic engineering is,” said Julie Legault, Founder and CEO, Amino Labs.
Exposure to genetic engineering usually happens in Advanced Projects Biology (AP) or University, this means that students have already made a preliminary career choice,” said Legault. “But if you expose your students to genetic engineering at an earlier age, this expands their possible interest in engineering sciences and that’s what we hope the 100K challenge will do.
The 100k challenge has more than 3,200 students signed up by their teachers or mentor to date from 48 schools and organizations, and they have issued more than 800 virtual bioengineer certificates to date with only 65 days left to go. Kid bioengineers from 47 countries have signed up. The top five countries participating are the US, Mexico, UK, Germany and India.
On the back of getting kids interested in bioengineering, there’s the umbrella of encouraging kids to take an interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education for the future’s sake.
Both Elon Musk and President Obama have pledged to send humans to Mars. To prepare for a future that involves sending humans to Mars, there will need to be a renewed emphasis on STEM in America’s public schools to create the future scientists who will help America complete this mission.
In 2015, Obama pledged $240 million in new funding for STEM education. In parallel, private companies are picking up STEM banner.
Zaniac, a franchised national after-school STEM education program, creates after school programs that teaches kids math and coding through play.
Zaniac has multiple courses designed to teach kids the fundamentals of 21st century careers such as computer programming, biology and physics. They have two specific programs designed to generate interest in space exploration: Game-Based Learning: Minecraft Galaxy where enrolled students explore space and learn how to design and build rockets that travel to the moon, the International Space Station and Mars, and the Kerbal Space Program, where students can explore aerospace engineering and orbital mechanics by designing testing and launching rockets to compete a series of missions.
President and chief academic officer of Zanaic, Sidh Oberoi, said the lack of modern STEM education resources is an unfortunate reality in public schools today.
This situation has increased the necessity for supplemental engagement to be provided to students beyond the traditional classroom. The fact is that even kids who do receive STEM-centric coursework during their school days still stand to gain profound benefits from extending those ideas into their after-school and summer hours.
But if you take it down to the granular level, maybe it boils down to how kids are taught to relate to science in the home.
Ulises Beato, a Brooklyn-based multi-discipline artist and father to seven year old Miranda, says he likes the idea of STEM education for Miranda but believes it should be STEAM, including the A for arts in the curriculum.
I think our current education system in the US isn’t focused enough on science which is why I spend so much time teaching Miranda the fundamentals of science at home,” said Beato. “I have an interest in science and I try to make experiments at home that teach her skills she can use for the rest of her life. Concepts like the atom aren’t that complicated for kids to understand and should be part of the basic curriculum.
Beato says Miranda learns science at her school, a public elementary school called the Earth School in the East Village, for about one hour a week but that’s focused on the fundamentals, like learning the food chain.
They’re teaching the basic things but not hard science and I would like to see them go much farther and deeper in what they teach kids,” said Bea
Beato and Miranda do practical science experiments at home like building the Faraday Motor and the Tesla coil. Most recently they viewed nuclear disintegrations through a spinthariscope from United Nuclear. The pair also created a closed kids group on Facebook called Miranda’s Science World to share the videos of their experiments with other kids.
I like doing science experiments with my dad because it’s fun and after, we make a video to share with my friends on Facebook,” said Miranda. “My favorite is the Periodic Table of Elements, because my periodic table has pictures and some of the pictures are really cool like a clock that glows in the dark for radium, and that’s how I remember them.Read the full article here