UNC-CH bus brings mobile lab, high-tech science focus to underserved N.C. schools

as an ongoing resource for students, teachers and their schools and districts," he said. "The project will explore how universities and schools can best collaborate to contribute to science education reform in North Carolina. The support and interest from Glaxo Wellcome and its scientists will greatly advance our exploration."

The traveling science laboratory, which was built on a BlueBird chassis customized by Ohio Bus Specialty Vehicles in Canton, Ohio, will provide students and teachers access to equipment and instruction with a minimum of movement. Equipment inside includes wireless Internet access via satellite, laptop computers donated by IBM Corp., gel electrophoresis apparatus for separating proteins and DNA, a thermocycler for polymerase chain reaction experiments and incubators. Other items include spectrophotometers for finding the quantity of protein in a solution, a special plate reader to determine the concentration of a protein and a remotely controlled camera that enables students to see a teacher's demonstration on video monitors throughout the bus.

Program activities include a cutting-edge biomolecular science curriculum and inquiry-based, hands-on experiments developed by the Boston University School of Medicine's CityLab that include modules such as "The Case of the Crown Jewels," a DNA fingerprinting exercise, or "The Mystery of the Crooked Cell," which involves determining if a hypothetical patient has sickle cell anemia.

Local business and educational leaders will be invited to participate in activities during bus stops, which are expected to span several days at each site, Bollenbacher said.

The project will tap partners working to advance science education in North Carolina, he said. For example, the involvement of LEARN North Carolina, a one-stop Web site offered free to all N.C. public school systems through UNC-CH's School of Education, should broaden awareness of the variety of excellent programs at UNC-CH and elsewhere

Contact: Mike McFarland
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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