Group Meeting Archive: Dr. Vandiver and Dr. Gruhl

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Dr. Kathy Vandiver and Dr. Amanda Gruhl

Topic: Boston Public Schools Pilot: Using Tactile and Visual Models to Teach Cellular Processes

Group Meeting Date & Time: Monday, November 7, 2011 @ 3:00 pm

Location: Koch Institute, 76-459 (4th floor large conference room)

Dr. Kathy Vandiver is the Outreach Director at the MIT Center for Environmental Health Sciences (CEHS). Dr. Amanda Gruhl is an Outreach Coordinator for CEHS and an Instructor at MIT’s Edgerton Center. Dr. Vandiver’s experience as a middle school teacher led her to develop molecular models using LEGO pieces to teach important cell processes. Using LEGO models of DNA, RNA and proteins, Dr. Vandiver and Dr. Gruhl teach middle and high school students as well as teachers and adult learners the workings of DNA. Currently, the LEGO molecules are integrated into the Learning Lab: the Cell classroom space at the MIT Museum, which provides an immersive environment in which to examine how DNA directs the assembly of proteins. This classroom space was built to mimic the interior of a cell and in addition to the LEGO-based manipulatives, contains other instructional approaches (videos, the molecular 3D-viewer StarBiochem software, and physical models) to help learners better understand how proteins are encoded and expressed within cells. Most recently, Dr. Vandiver and Dr. Gruhl partnered with the Boston Public Schools Science Department to bring the DNA to Protein Workshop taught within the “Learning Lab: the Cell” and the LEGO molecules to high school classrooms in the Boston area. During this group meeting you will get to hear more about this pilot program and its success. In addition, you will get to use LEGO molecules to simulate the expression of a gene.