Lessons in the lab: High school teachers return to UF to develop new science curriculum

Teachers Allison Moyel and Mary Russ
Teachers Allison Moyel and Mary Russ work in Dr. David A. Weinstein’s lab during the Center for Precollegiate Education and Training’s Bench to Bedside curriculum development program./Photo by Maria Belen Farias
By Claire Baralt and Jamie Harrison for The POST

We all live by the clock in one way or another. For high school students, it often means waiting for a bell to signal class is over. For people living with glycogen storage disease, it means precisely timing when they eat all day, every day — being just five minutes late can lead to serious health problems.

This is one of many lessons that Allison Moyel and Mary Russ hope to incorporate into a new high school science curriculum they are writing as part of a novel project led by the UF Center for Precollegiate Education and Training.

Funded by a one-year grant of $114,000 from the National Institutes of Health, the curriculum development project complements the center’s Biomedical Explorations: Bench to Bedside program, which connects Florida high school teachers to UF researchers, facilities, equipment and expertise to help educators spark interest in and prepare their students for bioscience careers.

“It’s very real-world and it allows you to keep up with the high-tech stuff,” said Russ, who teaches science at Williston High School. “You get to meet a unique group of teachers with whom you can share practices and curriculums.”

In July, one year after participating in the first Bench to Bedside institute, Moyel and Russ returned to UF with six other teachers to participate in the three-week curriculum development internship, which offered them a more intensive clinical research experience.

The teachers shadowed labs related to the UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute. What the teachers learned then served as the inspiration for the curriculum they drafted.

Moyel and Russ shadowed the lab of David Weinstein, M.D., M.P.H., an associate professor of pediatrics and director of the UF Glycogen Storage Disease Program. The other teachers shadowed labs studying autism, HIV, stem cells, anthrax and vibrio in oysters.

This fall, the teachers will continue refining their curriculums with the help of UF faculty and students. The goal is to publish the final curriculums online as a free resource for teachers nationwide.