The Gene Machine Mobile Science Laboratory of the Greenwood Genetic Center (GGC) brings hands-on genetics educational experiences and career exploration to over 6,000 SC middle and high school students each year. But the Gene Machine is popular, and the schedule is often filled by the beginning of the school year leaving many students without the opportunity.
To help make this valuable program more accessible to all students, the SC Department of Education has allocated proviso funding of $278,000 to GGC to expand its outreach educational STEM programs for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years with priority to traditionally underserved districts across SC.
The money will be used to expand the services of the Gene Machine, offer additional field trips for students to the GGC campus in Greenwood, and provide more teacher development opportunities, especially in the more rural school districts across SC.
"This additional funding will ensure that GGC can add the personnel and equipment necessary to broaden our activities and reach schools we haven't been able to serve in the past," said Leta Tribble, PhD, GGC's Director of Education.
Tribble said that GGC will begin accepting Gene Machine requests from teachers for the 2017-18 school year on May 1, and they have already reached out to the target districts. She expects the number of school visits to grow by 50% next year.
"The funding provided by the State Department of Education will provide opportunities for more students and teachers than have been reached before," said Ray Wilson, PhD, formed director of Western Piedmont Education Consortium. "It is a step forward for SC in meeting its obligations of providing high quality educational services to all of its students and teachers."
"The Gene Machine is so very beneficial to rural schools like ours," said Jerry Brigman who teaches Health Sciences Technology at Chesterfield High School. "This lab brings state of the art equipment and up to date research to the students, allowing them to experience practical and relevant information."
"We will be able to access more students with our fun, engaging activities that are designed to improve students' genetic knowledge and encourage them to consider furthering their education in the sciences," said Tribble. "Ultimately our outreach programs will help to equalize some of the educational disparities among school districts across our state and in the long term, help to strengthen the SC workforce."
For more information regarding GGC's educational outreach, visit www.GGC.org/education.