Helping Teachers Better Teach Biotechnology

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STEM Education. It’s a phrase we all hear bandied about all the time. At least, if you’re at all invested in education, science, technology, or engineering, you do. But how can we improve STEM education? The Johns Hopkins Center for Biotechnology Education offers one step: a Certificate in Biotechnology Education that helps grade 6-12 science teachers, as well as curriculum and instructional leaders, strengthen their content knowledge and pedagogic techniques in bioscience and develop ways to teach bioscience effectively in their classrooms.

The biggest challenge for the program to date? Funding.

According to Patrick Cummings, program director for the Master of Science in Biotechnology, many teachers can’t afford the program.

“We held information sessions about this program and drew 70-80 teachers interested in taking it,” Dr. Cummings said. “But with school districts cutting back funding, most said that ultimately they couldn’t afford the classes.”

One bright light, however, has been a partnership that the Center has formed with the medical diagnostics company BD Diagnostics, which includes BD’s helping to offset course costs for teachers from high-need schools, and donating equipment and lab supplies to teachers enrolled in the program.

Dr. Cummings said he was disappointed that more teachers aren’t taking advantage of that financial aid;  however, one reason for that may be because teachers don’t know it’s available.

He also said he would love to see more companies step up to the plate and offer similar funding opportunities to help more teachers become educated about the fast-changing world of biotechnology. After all, it’s those teachers who can help influence the future workforce when it comes to career paths.

Read more about the new Certificate program and about one Montgomery County Public Schools teacher whose students already are benefiting from her enrollment in it.

Is your company interested in partnering with the JHU Center for Biotechnology Education to help fund this educational opportunity that hopes to help strengthen the STEM workforce pipeline? Contact Patrick Cummings.

Interested in learning more about the program? The Center will be holding an online open house on October 24 from 7-8:30 p.m. Get the details.

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