HATHORNE – The Baker-Polito Administration and Massachusetts Life Sciences Center recently awarded Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School a grant of $119,300 to support the improvement of STEM equipment and professional development.
With the funds, Essex Tech will purchase scientific equipment beginning this summer and over the course of the coming school year to facilitate classroom learning pertaining to DNA, RNA, proteins and other particles used in genetic sequencing as well as a focus on corn pathogens and Lyme disease.
Equipment will include a Nanodrop spectrophotometer for rapid and accurate concentration determination of DNA, RNA and protein samples; a bioreactor for scale-up and fermentation of cell cultures; an ultralow temperature freezer for storage of live cells and temperature sensitive samples; and a benchtop autoclave for sterilization of media, equipment and supplies. Students will be monitoring pathogens that have become a large concern for farmers in the United States. With the technology, students can also test and classify vector borne pathogens in environmental samples, such as the organism responsible for Lyme disease.
Teachers at the school will receive professional development training this fall on operation of the machines through Endicott College and the National Genomics Center. Educators will also deepen their knowledge of DNA sequencing applications and the downstream data mining and analysis needed for utilizing the large quantities of data the sequencing will generate.
The grants are part of the Baker-Polito Administration and Massachusetts Life Sciences Center’s initiative to advance and expand life sciences education at over 93 Massachusetts public high schools and middle schools through project and inquiry-based curriculum.
“We are very grateful for receiving this grant from the Baker-Polito Administration and the MLSC,” Superintendent Hreidi Riccio said. “With it, we plan to expand our life sciences education and give students the opportunity to participate in genetic sequencing with the correct equipment. This grant helps us to best serve our students and prepare them for the future.”
Students in the biotechnology program at Essex Tech will be invited to view the equipment in action for presentations this school year. Middle school students from Lynn and Peabody will also be able to visit the life sciences lab on field trips to Essex Tech and view high school students using the new machines.
Other vocational and technical schools receiving funding for life sciences education through the initiative include Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical School, Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School, Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School, Pathfinder Regional Vocational Technical High School, Prospect Hill Academy Charter School, South Shore Vocational Technical High School and Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School.