HSCI reaches out to teach teachers

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops,” wrote Henry Brooks Adams, a 19th century historian, journalist, and novelist who graduated from and later taught at Harvard.

Precisely because teachers have such a profound and lasting impact on their students and society at large, the Harvard Stem Cell Institute is actively involved in a range of initiatives to help educators better understand all aspects of stem cell research—from the basic science and the implications for human health to the legal, ethical, and public policy issues surrounding this research.

Annual biotechnology symposium

A recent educational initiative in which HSCI played a key role was the 12th Annual Symposium on Biotechnology Education, held March 26 at the Museum of Science in Boston. Each year, the museum hosts this daylong event, which provides a forum for middle school, high school, and community college educators to learn and share ideas, classroom activities, and laboratory investigations.

Two HSCI faculty participated in this year’s symposium. HSCI Principal Faculty member Laurie Jackson-Grusby, PhD, of Children’s Hospital Boston, presented a workshop on the “Basic Science of Stem Cell Research,” which provided information and resources to enable educators to incorporate some aspect of stem cell biology into their curriculum. HSCI faculty member M. William Lensch, PhD, also of Children’s Hospital Boston, gave a workshop that addressed the implications of stem cell research outside of the laboratory, including the ethical and social issues.

Pilot course for science teachers

Another initiative, which launches in July, is HSCI’s pilot course for grades 6-12 science teachers and curriculum development specialists. “Stem Cell Science: 2007 Professional Development for Science Teachers” is a credit-eligible course that will focus on the facts of stem cell science and how educators can integrate this field into their school’s curriculum.

Taught by Nitzan Resnick, PhD, former Visiting Professor at Harvard Medical School and Director of the New Science and Math Initiative at an independent day school in Stoughton, Mass., with guest speakers from the HSCI faculty, the weeklong course will cover a range of topics, including the current state of stem cell research, stem cell research technologies, ethical and legal implications, and connecting stem cell science to the classroom curriculum. Based at HSCI’s headquarters in Harvard Square, the course will also include visits to HSCI laboratories and facilities, and provide resources and materials for teachers’ classrooms.

For this summer’s pilot course, HSCI will select approximately 20 participants who represent a diverse range of grade levels and school types. Participants will actively contribute to the development of the annual course, which in future years will be open to all educators interested in integrating stem cell science into their curriculum.