High school students on Northshore receive introduction to Genetics, STEM opportunities from Southeastern

Tuesday, April 25, 2017 STEM opportunities
by: Rene Abadie

SCIENCE AT THE NEXT LEVEL – Southeastern Louisiana University biology instructor Tara Turley-Stoulig observes Lakeshore High School juniors George Stokes, left, and Andrew Jones as they perform a lab experiment testing for genetic modification in snack foods at the NTCC STEM campus laboratory.

     HAMMOND – Students at several high schools on the Northshore are receiving intensive instruction in genetics and introductions to possible scientific careers thanks to Southeastern Louisiana University’s Department of Biological Sciences.
     Titled “Branching Out with STEM,” the new program involves Southeastern biology students and students from Northshore Technical Community College (NTCC) who serve as teaching assistants under the direction of Tara Turley-Stoulig, Southeastern instructor of biological sciences. Partnering with her on the program is NTCC Vice Chancellor of Strategic Initiatives Tina Tinney.
     The program is funded by a two–year enhancement grant of $52,288 from the Louisiana Board of Regents.
     “We are trying to stimulate greater interest in the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) by exposing students to genetics concepts and activities they would not ordinarily encounter in their high school courses,” said Turley-Stoulig.
     The four-day programs include two lecture modules in the high school classrooms on human genetics, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), genetic engineering and biotechnology, along with two days of hands-on activities in a lab at the NTCC STEM campus in Lacombe or on the Southeastern campus where students are able to practice modern laboratory techniques.
     The project introduces high school students to STEM-related programs offered at the college and university levels.
     To help teach the approximately 130 participating high school students, Turley-Stoulig recruited 20 Southeastern students from the university’s biology programs to serve as teaching assistants. The Southeastern students then instructed a similar number of NTCC students from various majors to help with the project.
     NTCC student Alexander Call of Mandeville participated in the program by assisting Turley-Stoulig in a laboratory presentation for Lakeshore High School students held at the community college’s new STEM campus in Lacombe.
     The experience has Call thinking that teaching may be a career choice that he would consider.
     “I see that the kids really like the program. The hands-on work they’re doing in the lab gets them involved in studying genetics,” Call said.
     “That is the intent of the program, to take a unique approach to provide a range of students exposure to technologies in a rapidly advancing field of science,” Turley-Stoulig said.
     “Dr. Turley-Stoulig is a great teacher,” said Lakeshore student Andrew Jones. “She teaches at our level and makes the subject understandable.” Lakeshore junior George Stokes added, “This is awesome; I learned a lot in this class.”
     In addition to Lakeshore, Northshore high schools participating in the program include Hammond High Magnet School, St. Thomas Aquinas Regional Catholic High School and Northlake Christian School.

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