Wait…what? Do scientists really use fruit flies in biomedical research? What value can those tiny insects actually provide? As a matter of fact, many model organisms, like fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster), are used in biomedical research because they have much simpler systems compared to humans, making them easier to study and manipulate. These organisms also possess many aspects of our own biology making them an ideal system in which to investigate disease. Thus, fruit flies provide a simple, fast, and relevant experimental system that can be easily adapted for use in the classroom setting.
In collaboration with Jamie Shuda, Ed.D., the Director of Outreach and Education at the University of Pennsylvania’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the Bashaw Lab has developed an outreach program with Philadelphia Public High Schools to enhance scientific literacy and encourage students to engage with STEM education. The program brings high school science teachers to the lab for six-week paid summer research position to learn about our work and to design curriculum for use in the classroom. Members of the Bashaw lab have visited classrooms at Sayre, Central and Furness High Schools. We are in the fourth year of a five-year NSF funded project and have developed and implemented different curriculum modules that align with state requirements. We hope to continue to expand the reach of the program and have entered into a partnership with David Garbe, Ph.D., a former Bashaw Lab graduate student, and now an Outreach Educator with the Pennsylvania Society for Biomedical Research (PSBR).
We are currently piloting these activity modules with a small group of teachers to iron out the final kinks and will be hosting them in summer of 2018 before going “Prime Time” in 2019. Please keep a lookout for these new and exciting activities.
To see an overview of each module, an estimated timeline, and curriculum/NGSS connections click on each module: