Cool Stuff WEEFC (and You) Funded: High School Science-y Stuff

In an effort to help the students of Weston’s public schools continue to learn cool stuff, the Owl is highlighting two recent WEEFC-funded projects. As every Westonian knows, our schools are priceless–they are what keeps our home values high (along with the trees which I really wish people would stop chopping down) and prepare our students for success now and in the future. And it’s the extras provided by WEEFC (Weston Educational Enrichment Fund Committtee) that really knock things out of the ballpark. As WEEFC reaches the halfway mark of the winter fundraiser, we are way off normal giving levels. Read about this project, and see why you want to give, at any level.

Weston High School WEEFC Grant: “PCR and Fluorescence: Making Real World Connections”

In the spring of 2021, WHS biology teacher Mary Liu, along with fellow biology teachers Chris Chiodo and Janet Kresl-Moffat, received a WEEFC grant to purchase lab equipment that enhances the curriculum for all WHS biology students by bringing a fundamental scientific technique into the classroom.  In addition, you could not as for a more “a propos” of the world today learning:

Description of Technology and Curriculum Enhancement

  1. Lab Equipment – MiniPCR machines allow AP Biology and Biotech students to run experiments and experience the process of PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) and how it is being used in the real world. For example, students will be able to explain how it amplifies a region of interest in terms of genetic testing and how it is being used to detect viral genetic information in COVID-19 testing. Information about the equipment is here: miniPCR mini8 thermal cycler (5 unit bundle, Rainbow) ($575 per unit, 25 units needed)
  1. Lab Equipment: Biobits @home Central Dogma kits provide sophomores a visual model for students to better understand the molecular process and how visual signals are used as evidence. All sophomores learn the central dogma of gene expression as part of the biology curriculum and using the Biobits system allows them to experience a lab technique that quantifies this process and to see how fluorescence can be used to detect nucleic acids. This can also be connected to discuss and illustrate the principles behind the q-PCR processes of COVID-19 testing. BioBits@home: Central Dogma (Set of 10): ($890 per set, 7 sets needed)

Specific Goals and Expected Outcome

The miniPCR units are portable and allowed students both in the classroom and at home (2021’s Remote Learning Academy) to experience for themselves the process of PCR. Molecular biology can be an abstract concept with only diagrams and paper models to bring visual support to the process. The Biobits lab enables students to experiment with cell-free technology and learn about transcription and translation. Students also are able to design their own experiments related to enzyme function.

Short and Long Term Benefits from this grant

In the spring of 2021, approximately 196 WHS students (AP Biology students, Introduction to DNA Science & Biotechnology students and all sophomore Biology classes) used and benefited from this technology. The equipment is durable, long-lasting technology and will be used in the coming years by future biology classes.

The ask: Give to WEEFC and see more cool stuff rain down on your sttudents.

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