Destiny arrives on a bus from UNC

I read an article in the Durham paper today about a bus that UNC supports to aid applied science education here in NC. It really sounds like a great program and I've got a portion of the article below. Go to the address listed at the end if you want to read the entire article. You'll need to sign up on their page if you do that but it is free to do so.

This is the website for the Destiny program. The site is interactive and very well coded.

This program started in the Spring of 2000 with a 5-year grant for $1.6 million from Glaxo Wellcome. This money paid for a 40-foot bus, full of state-of-the-art equipment for wet laboratory experiments, Internet exploration and carefully honed curriculum materials as well as funding to run the program for the 5 years.

Since that original funding, the program has continued and due to the popularity of the program a second bus has been added. Additional funding has come from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, IBM and New England BioLabs.

Ginny Hoyle, The Herald-Sun
May 8, 2007 10:33 pm
HILLSBOROUGH -- It was "CSI: Hillsborough" at Cedar Ridge High School Tuesday as students assumed the roles of forensic scientists to perform DNA restriction analysis with evidence from a crime scene.

The crime: a stolen iPod.

As part of UNC's DESTINY Traveling Science Learning Program, Crystal Bennett's ninth-grade honors biology class boarded a 40-foot, 33,000-pound bus called the Discovery.

Lisa Pierce, one of three DESTINY science education specialists, said the Discovery is an ideal way to bring the latest technology to students.

"My hope is always that this experience will enlighten students and hopefully get them excited about science," said Pierce, who has traveled with the DESTINY buses for the past three years.

The state-of-the-art laboratory offers students hands-on experience with forensic science -- in this case, gel electrophoresis, a process in which molecules (such as DNA fragments) can be separated by applying an electric current.

Huddled over equipment in groups of three, students participated in a step-by-step demonstration of DNA restriction analysis, as Pierce spoke into a camera that was projected on TVs at each end of the bus.

Ninth-grader Kaitlyn Stubblefield said the hardest part of the lab was keeping the micropipette, a device used to measure small amounts of liquid, steady while she practiced releasing the liquid samples.

Students prepared for Tuesday with a pre-lab in class, where they used DESTINY worksheets to solve "The Case of the Irresistible iPod." Four photos of make-believe suspects were taped on the wall of the classroom, as they worked with fibers and fingerprints to find the culprit.

Most schools aren't equipped with the latest science technology, said Pierce, so the DESTINY program brings it to them.

"Every kid needs to experience the science lab. It shouldn't just be for the wealthier schools. If you really want your kids to learn science, it costs money," she said. Just one BIO-RAD micropipette, like Stubblefield was using, costs between $180 and $200, she pointed out.

Bennett, the honors biology teacher, said funding can be a hindrance for science classrooms. Just one small box of lab equipment, enough for a few students to share, costs $450. "We'd have to write grants all year just to get enough for once class," she said.

Bennett said that in addition to being glad her students had an opportunity to do gel electrophoresis, she's very impressed with the way Pierce, who taught science for 20 years, and Brown ran the DESTINY laboratory.

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kenju said…
I feel so deprived, Dave, that I didn't have something like this when I was in school!! That's great!

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