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Group Meeting Date & Time: Thursday, May 19, 2011 @ 1:30 pm
Location: Broad Institute (7 Cambridge Ctr) Monadnock Room (Rm 2040, located on the 2nd floor)
View a brochure about volunteering opportunities within the Broad Institute’s Educational Outreach Program.
Dr. Megan Rokop is the Director of the Educational Outreach Program at the Broad Institute. In this Education Group Meeting, she spoke about the remarkable program that she has developed, which includes high school class visits to the Broad Institute, summer internships for rising high school seniors, teacher forums, and semester-long research projects that enable groups of high school students to spend their Saturdays working together in a Broad Laboratory designated specifically for this purpose. In just a few year’s time, this Educational Outreach Program has already served thousands of local high school students.
Megan shared her own story of inspiring mentors who have significantly impacted the course of her career. She explained that, during her own high school years, she had absolutely no interest in science. She entered Brown University as a freshman undergraduate expecting to major in German and Italian Language Studies. While at Brown, she enrolled in an introductory Biology course simply because it fit neatly into her schedule – a happenstance that turned out to be a stroke of good fortune. That Biology course, due to the excellent and inspiring teaching of Professor Ken Miller, completely changed the focus of Megan’s ambitions. Her new goal was to teach college-level science. To achieve this end, she majored in Biology at Brown before heading to MIT where she received her Ph.D. in Biology, completing her doctoral research in the laboratory of Professor Alan Grossman. While engaged in her graduate studies, Megan also took the initiative to broaden her teaching training. She enrolled in MIT’s teacher education courses where she met another inspiring mentor, Reen Gibb, who deftly juggles excellent teacher training for MIT’s students with equally excellent high school chemistry instruction. By the time Megan finished her doctoral thesis research, she had gained extensive experience in biology education, having taught students at both the undergraduate and high school levels.
Megan began building the Broad Institute Educational Outreach Program in January 2007. Her program focuses on developing students’ skills rather than drowning them in information. High school students who participate in the Broad’s outreach activities engage in real laboratory work, in actual data analysis, and in various forms of scientific communication about their work including presenting talks and research posters. Her program also offers valuable opportunities for high school students, middle school students, and teachers to interact with working scientists at the Broad Institute.
In addition to directing Educational Outreach at the Broad, Megan is also actively involved with other local educational outreach initiatives, including the MIT BLOSSOMS project (led by MIT Professor Richard Larson), for which she has created “blended learning” open source biology education videos about “Classifying Animals by Appearance Versus DNA Sequence” and “Using DNA to Identify People“.
Megan devoted much of her group meeting to a discussion about opportunities for graduate students and postdocs within MIT, the Broad, and other local communities to extend their own teaching experiences by engaging as volunteer instructors and assistants in various science outreach activities conducted in her program, across the MIT campus, and elsewhere in the Boston/Cambridge area. For graduate students and postdocs interested in improving their teaching and mentoring skills, there are many ways to help out and get involved — including opportunities with manageable time commitments that are highly compatible with the demands of active laboratory research. For more information about these opportunities, please contact: