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Project Description

There have been significant national efforts to modernize K-12 life science education in the United Stated as reflected in such initiatives as the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and its paradigmatically distinct emphasis on engineering design and computation. One example of an area where this has been taken up for K-12 learning is in the burgeoning synthetic biology field where cells are genetically modified, like programmable units, to produce a useful behavior or output. The recent development of low-cost portable wet lab devices and curriculum have made learning in these areas increasingly feasible for K-12 education. As a result, there is a growing need to develop a teacher professional development framework that is consistent with national education goals of raising public literacy and supporting workforce development in these areas. The problem is that local social and cultural differences make it difficult to deploy synthetic biology learning at scale, without reifying marginalizations that result among groups that do not recognize the field and its growing ubiquity in relation to their everyday lives. Culturally relevant pedagogies have emerged as a plausible approach to synthetic biology professional development for K-12 educators. This pilot project seeks to investigate how educators respond to a culturally relevant framing of an existing and nationally established synthetic biology professional development program. Using observation notes, focus group interviews, and pre/post surveys, this pilot study will address the following research questions: [1] what critical framings support culturally relevant synthetic biology professional development, [2] how do educators respond to a culturally relevant framing for synthetic biology professional development, and [3] how do educator understandings and perspectives of synthetic biology shift after encountering a culturally relevant framing for synthetic biology professional development?

Key Collaborator

Key Outcomes


University Research Institute Funded


Graduate Student Research Assistants Mentored


Pubs and Presentations

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