Waynflete receives STEM grant from Toshiba America Foundation

Waynflete has received a $4,990 STEM grant from the Toshiba America Foundation (TAF). These funds will support the initial costs to set up a molecular genetics laboratory at Waynflete, which will enable students to sequence DNA.

Katrina St. John attended an intense teacher training workshop in the summer of 2018 that was facilitated by Jackson Laboratories (Bar Harbor, Maine). The training provided teachers with the laboratory procedures, reagents, and equipment necessary to bring DNA sequencing technology to schools within Maine, Connecticut, and California. This grant will cover the major equipment needed to run these labs year after year.

Katrina’s bioethics class will sequence their own DNA for five particular genes, including the love receptor gene and the sprinter gene. Students will look at the different variants of the gene that their classmates carry (DNA samples will be anonymously randomized). This course will look at current techniques and policy surrounding personalized medicine (specialized care based on genome sequencing). With the addition of this equipment, other classes at Waynflete will be able to participate in DNA sequencing projects, bringing some exciting current practices to the laboratories at Waynflete.

“We are excited to see the hard work Katrina has done to bring DNA sequencing into the curriculum,” said Waynflete Head of School Geoff Wagg. “The Toshiba Grant will allow Katrina to bring this science to life for our students in a way not previously possible. This hands-on opportunity for science study will be truly engaging.”

Toshiba America Foundation’s grants fund projects designed by individual classroom teachers. This “direct-to-teacher” approach brings immediate results. Teachers are able to change the way they teach Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) subjects because the grant supports equipment for hands-on experiments and inquiry-based approaches to the curriculum. TAF believes that STEM is a lot more fun than just reading a textbook; its grants provide teachers with the tools they need to be more effective educators and to make the classroom a more exciting place.