The Lybbaverse / science  

Schools of thought: Lybba examines STEM education

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Policy makers agree that STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education should be a top priority in American schools, but we are just beginning to discover the best ways to integrate STEM into existing curricula. Lybba is actively collaborating with thought leaders in STEM education to both shape the conversation and directly impact students.
 
Most recently, Lybba collaborated with The California Endowment, The California Biotechnology Foundation, and Wondros, to create the first Biohackathon event for high school students in Los Angeles. The Biohackathon event spotlighted educators who are making science exciting to a new generation of students and most importantly, it generated awareness about careers in biotechnology among students who may not have considered such a path. Other STEM initiatives are underway all over the country, and educators working hard to address questions with exciting implications for students and our future economy: 
 
  • How can we ensure that STEM education translates into real jobs? 
  • Which influencers are doing the best job of making science, technology, engineering and math compelling to students from all walks of life?
  • What STEM success stories have we seen so far and how can scale them?

In a series of upcoming blog posts, Lybba will explore these questions and more. We will examine the current state of STEM education and spotlight some of the innovators who are making STEM accessible to students from all socioeconomic backgrounds. We’ll also look at STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) and spotlight some of the fascinating work being done at the intersection of art and science. 
 
We invite you to share your thoughts about STEM education as our series continues. What aspect of STEM would you like us to cover here?

Our favorite photos from Biohackathon L.A. 2013

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We're so happy to share these photos from Biohackathon L.A. 2013! Students from L.A.'s Promise Manual Arts High School proved science is cool, and learned about cross-disciplinary opportunities in the life sciences while genotyping themselves. Stay tuned for our series on biodesign, STEM, and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math education), coming up in April!

Biohackathon L.A. helps youth shape the future

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From the second Mr. John Choi’s high school biology class stepped off their school bus and into a conference room turned laboratory, they became scientists. 

“My students entered an amazing gateway into the world of science and it opened their eyes to the possibilities that are available to them,” said Mr. Choi.

Many students like those in Mr. Choi’s class crave inspiration and outlets to explore what their futures may have in store. When asked about career interests, the majority of students surprisingly mentioned professions that would enable them to improve health. In some instances, their drive to enter the health industry was connected to a family member with a chronic health issue.

While these students, and so many like them, think about a variety of career and academic paths, they don’t often see the connection between what learning science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) can have on their futures. There are many workforce development and education programs available to help students across California prepare for jobs that will follow the changing global economy. The problem is that students don’t have the resources to learn about what opportunities are available and don’t fully understand the impact of STEM education. 

The California Endowment, the California Biotechnology Foundation, Lybba, and Wondros posed a solution: Biohackathon L.A. 2013, an immersive workshop to inspire students about the health and career benefits of STEM education and the life sciences.

“The Biohackathon is a real game-changer for the students, who have insatiable curiosities,” said Mr. Choi.

Inspired by traditional hackathons, a term coined by computer programmers and software developers, the event was collaborative, educational, and interactive. A conference room at The Endowment’s L.A. office was taken over by pipettes, microcentrifuge tubes, DNA sample swabs and safety glasses. Led by LA Biohackers, the experience was tailored specifically for the students with the help of L.A.’s Promise Manual Arts High School in South L.A. The hands-on do-it-yourself experience let students test themselves for a hereditary "bitter taste" gene. Their genotypes were projected onto a wall, interpreted, and printed out to take home. 

“Hands-on experimenting and genuine inquiry is a really effective way to learn practical science,” said Romie Littrell, founder of LA Biohackers and curator at The Tech Museum of Innovation. “We were lucky to have all the necessary resources and instructors to do this with a full classroom. Each student had different instincts to approach and perform the experiment and, by working together and seeing all the different outcomes, failures and all, I think they got a better grasp of the scientific process.”

In addition to the science experiment, recent graduates from programs sponsored by the life science industry shared with students the many opportunities in the life sciences and the cross-application of such knowledge. Leaders from business and education painted the broader landscape of STEM education and pathways to help achieve career possibilities. 

“The California life science community supports several initiatives that create jobs, stimulate economic growth, and inspire future leaders to help save lives and promote sustainability,” said Kristie Grover, executive director of BIOCOM Institute. “Together with industry, our state’s learning Institutions, regional associations, and community programs are partnering to offer free resources that serve as a catalyst for increased growth and quality of life in California.”

“I was in your shoes once. I know the feeling of wanting to do great things, but now I know how to make it happen,” said Elvia Hernandez, a recent graduate who is beginning her career in life sciences. “My STEM background and workforce development program changed my life.”

Hernandez’s encouraging words resonated with the students.

Marlena Jackson, research assistant at a life science company and founder of NexGeneGirls, a science enrichment program for girls, asked students to think about the Biohackathon in terms of personal benefits and community health.

“The event was an incredible experience for my students and will definitely remain in their minds as they pursue a path in STEM. Having so many guest speakers and resources for internship information and STEM careers in general was a wonderful opportunity. Indeed, the networking potential was nothing short of marvelous,” said Mr. Choi. “The collaboration and unity of the scientific community is always a marvelous facet of science.”

The students were challenged to continue investing in STEM education, a path that will give them the tools to transform their future and improve their communities.

Reblogged from The California Endowment newsroom with permission of the authors.

A slideshow and interviews with our partners, designers, and biohackers are coming soon!

Art from the Ice Age roars to life

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Just before World War II, archeologists discovered shards from an ancient sculpture. Over the past few decades, more shards have been discovered, but archeologists lacked a tool to piece them together. Now, 3D modeling software has enabled a team of European archeologists to recreate the sculpture, an upright lion. They’ve also estimated its age to be 40,000 years old, making this the earliest known figurative sculpture in the world. From the moment “Lion Man” was made until now, we as a species have come so far.


Photo Credit: Otubo