Molecular Genetics Core Capstone Course Connects Students back to the Core Question “What will I do?”
Students enrolled in Human Molecular Genetics course (BIO425W), a Core Capstone offered through the Biology Department, have been collaborating with teachers from the local Spring-Ford Area School District. The goal is to supplement the high school AP Biology curriculum with Ursinus-student created educational videos. One Spring-Ford teacher, Mary Ann Group, is an Ursinus alumnus and helped coordinate the collaboration with Ursinus faculty member Rebecca Lyczak. The students in BIO425W first participated in a workshop with Christine Iannicelli, an Instructional Technologist at Ursinus, to learn how to use the application Powtoon. Powtoon is free software for creating short, animated videos. The students then wrote up scripts related to the AP Biology topics to create their Powtoon video. The videos were reviewed to make sure they were appropriately aimed for a High School level of learning. Once created, Bio425W gave the drafts to the AP biology high school students to review and give feedback. After revisions, the videos were sent back to Spring Ford to be used in their curriculum. To view one of the Powtoon videos click here.
Through this course, Ursinus students have learned valuable skills that have allowed them to tap into the core question “What will I do?” Rosella Cuomo is a Biology Major who is currently finishing up the course. She shared that, “I am constantly surrounded by people who talk the same way I do and understand the scientific jargon. Having to make a video explaining the discovery of DNA structure to a high schooler forced me to rethink how I explain science. This course challenges us to make genetics accessible to everyone regardless of their background.” Sometimes being in the collegiate world of courses and studies you often forget the way we talk about science cannot be understood by just anyone. Recognizing that is vital to any student’s future in the science community and Bio425W allows Rosie to understand that. The skill of breaking down information into lay terms is essential and an important aspect of science communication.
This learning collaboration benefited from the continued relationship between Ursinus Alumni Mary Ann Group and her former professor, Rebecca Lyczak. Since leaving Ursinus, Mary Ann has remained involved in the Biology Department and remains a valuable part of the science community. Mary Ann shared a multitude of events she was able to attend, “I chaperoned high school students at the ISGP-Ursinus Conferences that focused on Emerging and Persistent Infections Diseases (Pandemic Preparedness) and Food Safety, Security, and Defense. After Dr. Lyczak’s Developmental Biology students are finished spawning their urchins, I’m able to bring the urchins into my classroom to share my experiences from Developmental with my students. I attended a Summer Boot Camp with Dr. Roberts and her students that focused on Mechanisms of Anti-Microbial Resistance and forever changed my appreciation for proteins”. Mary Ann is a true example of fulfilling the “What will I do?” question that Ursinus’s curriculum pushes students to think about and evetually achieve. Being a part of the Ursinus Biology Department does not end when you graduate, that is when the chance for exploration becomes even greater.