“I teach a Biotechnology 2 course in which the students have an opportunity to go through the steps of gene cloning. The commercial kits that can be purchased to teach this are expensive and provide a minimum amount of material that does not afford the students an opportunity to fail. If something does not work, they just miss out on the remaining steps of the project.
“In 2016, I received funding from the PRISM grant (Promoting Innovation in Science and Mathematics) through the Burroughs Wellcome Fund to purchase materials to create my own kit. My goal was to have the students splice the amylase gene (a gene that codes for an enzyme that breaks down starch) into a bacterial DNA plasmid and insert this recombinant DNA plasmid into an E.coli cell. This E.coli cell would now be able to produce amylase when it could not before. This is a unique experience for high school juniors and seniors.”
“Here is where my student comes into the picture. Allison Charles is a senior biotech major at Atkins. Last year she took our Biotech 2 course and was the first one to try this cloning project. It had limited success in the limited time we allotted it in the curriculum.”
“Allie then came in during the summer and worked on this project as part of her summer internship. She helped refine the procedure that needed to be done during this project. She even worked a student page period into her schedule so that she could continue to work on this project.”
“At this point, the project is still not complete and she will continue to work on it for the remainder of the semester. When it is finished, we will have all of the procedures down to allow future students to successful clone the amylase gene on the Biotech 2 class and to have the materials to allow students to learn from the failures - a key part of being a scientist.”
“Matthew will be discussing Atkins High School's alternative fuel club and their Shell Eco-marathon team #1923 prototype electric vehicle – how the club has evolved from the old Alternative fuel go-green go-kart competition to the Shell Eco-marathon team they are today as well as their future goals.”
“He will discuss what the Shell competition is, how it is ‘a unique, global competition that challenges students to push the boundaries of energy efficiency on the road.’”
“There are three Shell Eco-marathon competitions held throughout the year in Asia, America and Europe. The competition provides an arena for students to test vehicles they design and build themselves. It aims to inspire young people to become scientists and engineers of the future. Matthew will also discuss what Atkins' vision for the future of the Alternative Fuel Club looks like.”