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Teachers Bridge Gap Between Education, Science

By Margaret Warker

Three lucky teachers traveled from across the country to tour NIH in April, meeting with Dr. Ruth Kirschstein, NIH acting director, and learning about cutting edge research. The three won the trip at a recent national seminar sponsored by the Office of Science Education to train teachers in using a new series of NIH curriculum supplements. The series is designed to improve science literacy and foster students' interest in science in grades kindergarten through 12.

The 3-day trip was sponsored by NCI, NHGRI, and NIAID — the institutes that cooperated with OSE to produce the first three supplements, entitled Cell Biology and Cancer, Human Genetic Variation, and Emerging and Re-Emerging Infectious Diseases. The trip winners were Kathleen Gabric, biology teacher at Hinsdale Central High School, Ill.; Marjorie King, K-12 science consultant at Jefferson Parish Public School System, La.; and Paul C. King, science teacher at Randolph High School, Mass.

NIH acting director Dr. Ruth Kirschstein (second from r) welcomes teachers (from l) Paul King, Marjorie King and Kathleen Gabric to NIH in mid-April; the teachers' trip was sponsored by OSE.

Escorted by Dr. Bruce Fuchs, OSE director, the teachers witnessed science and technology working hand-in-hand. They learned about laser capture microdissection at NCI, patterns of gene activity in cells at NHGRI, and malaria transmission research at NIAID. They also talked with staff at the White House and in the office of Rep. Constance Morella (R-Md.) to express their concerns about such topics as pending legislation that could redirect Eisenhower Funds for professional development now earmarked for science and math teachers.

NHGRI's Aaron Mayer points out equipment in the DNA chip technology laboratory to Marjorie King (l).

Paul King said, "The trip gave us a rare opportunity to meet with scientists working in the field and observe research in action. We came away with a dynamite series of teaching materials — the new curriculum supplements — and the excitement of a connection and a collaboration between teachers and scientists, between education and science in action."

Paul King, a science teacher at Randolph High School, Mass., examines specimens at NIAID's insectiary laboratory.

Marjorie King added, "We bridged the gap between what goes on in the classroom and what goes on in the scientific world. The supplements facilitate that process. They are very, very good."

Gabric concluded, "Trips like this keep us excited about teaching and give us ideas for bringing new elements into the classroom. Next year my students may be doing DNA fingerprinting."

Gabric (r) asks a question of Lu Charboneau in NCI's Laser Capture Microdissection Laboratory.

The first three supplements and accompanying CD-ROMs in the series were developed by Biological Sciences Curriculum Study of Colorado Springs, and Videodiscovery, Inc. of Seattle. For more information on forthcoming supplements, visit the OSE web site at

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