A series of workshops designed to promote the teaching of biotechnology in Chicago Public Schools kicked off with a June 19 symposium featuring pioneering Northwestern University cancer researcher Teresa K. Woodruff. The event also connected educators to the partners sponsoring the workshops — Northwestern’s Office of STEM Education Partnerships (OSEP), Baxter International Inc.global healthcare company, and the Biotechnology Center of Excellence (BCoE) at Lindblom Math and Science Academy.
“Enhancing science education and exciting educators about teaching biotechnology are major goals for this summer’s teacher professional development workshops in biotechnology,” said Kemi Jona of the School of Education and Social Policy. Jona is director of OSEP, the Northwestern University office that promotes STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education.
At the biotechnology launch symposium on June 19, Chicago science teachers heard from Woodruff, a Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine professor of obstetrics and gynecology who pioneered the field of oncofertility, which seeks to preserve the fertility of cancer patients. The work of Woodruff’s lab provides a real-life context for the NUBIO high school biotechnology curriculum developed by OSEP.
Woodruff emphasized the need for high school students to “leave school liking math and science so they will be able to do something with science for their community.” She sees oncofertility as a good topic for middle school and high school science, since students get excited about real-world applications. “Having a narrative contextualizes what students learn in science,” said Woodruff. “It’s a radical rethinking of the way we teach.”
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