June 13, 2018

Pilot Project Aims to Advance Maine’s High School Science Curriculum
10K in Funding from the Maine Community Foundation will kick start Maine Medical Center Research Institute’s Pilot Project to bring High School Biomedical Research Curriculum into high school classrooms.

Maine Medical Center Research Institute (MMCRI) was recently awarded 10K from the Celia Lipton Farris and Victor W. Farris Foundation Home Community of the Maine Community Foundation (MCF) to adapt their successful on-site high school program for exploration of biomedical research into a classroom learning module. Thanks to the foundation, which gives non-profits the chance to submit projects that help to build and strengthen Maine Communities, the grant funding will be used to create a hands-on science and research curriculum pilot program for classrooms.

The current MMCRI High School education program is offered annually to several high schools in the local area.  Those high school students and teachers attend sessions at MMCRI once a month for a 7 month-program during the academic year to learn about biomedical research through experiential learning activities.  For many high schools it’s a challenge to travel to such a program due to lack of funding; moreover, high school educators have limited resources to bring real-life science into classrooms.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to expand our current high school program to rural communities and districts that might not have the resources to attend, and at the same time gives us the chance to evaluate the curriculum and learn the best way to deliver such a program,” said Dr. Lucy Liaw, Senior Scientist and Director of Education and Training at MMCRI.  MMCRI researchers and staff will work collaboratively with educators to develop and design a complete module for use in the classroom.  There will also be a training session to help teachers implement the module effectively as part of their curriculum. The module will be developed as a kit to go “on the road” so to speak.  The portable kits, consisting of detailed lesson plans, online resources, and videos, will be piloted in classrooms during the upcoming academic year.  The curriculum will parallel State educational guidelines, enhancing teacher resources for extended project-based STEM activities.

Schools that will be participating in the pilot program include:  Casco Bay High School in Portland, Scarborough High School, Biddeford Regional Technical Center, York High School, Edward Little High School in Auburn, and Camden Hills Regional High School.  Each group will experience the curriculum and participate in an evaluation and feedback process to improve the program.

“Developing and giving access to this curriculum is exciting for us, since we’d like biomedical research to be accessible to everyone, regardless of their location in our state or their distance from our research institute,” said Dr. Liaw.

The curriculum development will start this month with implementation occurring in the Fall, and final analysis and evaluation in the Spring of 2019.