Introducing teachers to emerging science

Dr. Rebecca Fry (left) with Research Translation Core staff, Dana Haine (right) and workshop participant

Dr. Rebecca Fry (left) with Research Translation Core staff, Dana Haine (right) and workshop participant

In an effort to make SRP content relevant to North Carolina’s high school biology curriculum, the RTC is developing outreach activities designed to help teachers address the topic of DNA structure and function in the context of environmental health by integrating the work of UNC SRP scientists. In August 2012, the RTC conducted its first teacher workshop titled, Epigenetics: Genes and the Environment, for 17 high school science teachers from across the state.

During the workshop, UNC SRP scientist Dr. Rebecca Fry discussed this emerging field and the common epigenetic modifications being investigated by scientists, while Dana Haine, RTC science educator, conducted a heat-map analysis activity highlighting Dr. Fry’s cadmium research. This activity was developed in collaboration with Dr. Fry, PhD student Allie Sanders, and AP Biology teachers from across the state to demonstrate how one scientist is investigating the link between exposure to cadmium and associated human health effects through the mechanism of epigenetic modification.

This workshop was conducted in partnership with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and also featured a lesson that Ms. Haine wrote for EHP’s Science Education Program titled DNA Wrap: Packaging Matters. “Workshop participants, many of whom were unfamiliar with the concept of epigenetics prior to the workshop, now have access to resources to help integrate this topic into their biology curriculum,” stated Ms. Haine.