Science Training Workshops for the diffusion of Cutting Edge Scientific Knowledge in Biology to Teachers of the Secondary School education
Τechnological progress in the field of Biological Sciences advances with exponential speed. The applications of this technology and its consequences in everyday life are important, complex and multidimensional. The scientific community is required to play a significant role in the propagation and understanding of the new knowledge by the lay public. All modern citizens and especially the younger generation, the adults of tomorrow, need to be well informed in order to be able to respond properly to the challenges of the knowledge that the new state of the art technology in Bio-sciences brings about. Continuous education is the only way of facing the important issues that are rising by the applications of cutting edge technologies in Bio-sciences
Organizers – Scientific responsibility
Dr. Haralabia Boleti, Dr. Sylva Haralambous
The basic scope of the courses was not only to transfer new technical information concerning the new knowledge to the Biology teachers but, as well to present the new knowledge and its applications in an interdisciplinary way. A way through which new directions, challenges and contractions as well as underlying dangers can be revealed. In other words, our initiative was to transfer the message for a new, not only scientific but social reality to the teachers who can act as vehicles of this new reality to the high school students.
The motto of the seminars was: “When scientific excellence in research is a dominating goal, excellence should also become an equally important aspiration in education. When continuous education becomes a social need, continuous reformation of the educational system is an ultimate goal”.
Organization structure of the courses
To achieve this goal researchers of the Hellenic Pasteur institute in a unique collaboration with the European Learning Laboratory for the Life Sciences (EMBL, Heidelberg- Germany) have organized for the first time in Greece three 3 day courses. The instructors teaching in the courses came from the Hellenic Pasteur Institute and other Greek Research Institutes and Universities.
The activities were held in the amphitheater of the Hellenic Pasteur Institute on June 26-28, 2006, December 18-20 2006 and Jule July 2-4, 2007. Opening remarks and especially Dr Fotis Kafatos video recorded message made the point that priority for all the European countries is the continuous transfer of new technological advances and knowledge to the educational system. The participants realized that they were not alone in this need but they constitute a central interest of the European politics and of the scientific community. It also became obvious to them that new ways of communication are opening between the researchers and the educators of the younger generation.
Each course had a duration of three days. It was consisted of a theoretical part and a practical training. The theoretical part consisted of lectures with an interdisciplinary character, designed to comprise recent advances, corner-stone discoveries, basic principles, applications and social reprecautions of cutting edge technologies in Biosciences. Social and ethical implications of the new knowledge were also discussed.
During the course the teachers had the chance to act as students playing the “microarrays game” designed and directed by Anastasios Koutsos for ELLS, as well as the Stem cell game designed by members of ELLS and translated into Greek by the organizers of the HPI courses. (see statistics below)
One hundred and forty two teachers attended the theoretical part in all three courses. They mainly came from Athens but also from other geographical regions in Greece.
The activities designed for the practical training consisted either of demonstration of methods or of execution of experiments, with a final result demonstrating the success of the experiment. Some of these activities could be transferred in the classroom and they could become valuable tools for the teachers in their effort to transfer to the students the state of the art technology and knowledge of modern biosciences. Greek representatives of international companies offered material for experimentation (BioRad) and microscopes (ANTISEL-Zeiss) for the needs of the training. The National center for biotechnology education, University of Reading UK, also offered us the mini apparatuses for analyzing DNA on agarose gels. A simple and cost effective apparatus that could be easily used in schools for classroom experiments.
Seventy five teachers in total were trained, after selection, in the practical part of the courses.Graduate students from the HPI under the supervision of the organizers, Dr Boleti and Dr Haralambous, were the instructors in these sessions and helped the teachers to come into contact with laboratory work. The teachers were thrilled to participate in the practical exercises as most of them had not performed bench work since their University days.
The teaching material was given to the teachers in electronic and in printed form containing power-point presentations of the lectures, small educational videos, photographs from scientific material, useful sites from the internet containing educational material. Furthermore, every teacher received DVDs with educational material offered by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, USA.
Special events during the course were:
The contribution of this series of courses (Tables with statistics), which we hope that one day will be adopted and supported by the Greek Ministry of Education relates to a creative multilevel interaction of social groups that are involved in a common field of activities relating to the modern reality. A reality stemming from the progress in Life Sciences. The reality of the 21st century.
The course has become a memorable event for all teachers who attended them.
The enthousiasm of the atmosphere is captured in the pictures of the course.
We thank all those who contributed in these courses making them a memorable event