Project Details


PROJECT SUMMARY/ABSTRACT In order to teach the future scientists of tomorrow, investment into supporting their teachers today needs to be made. The complexity of scientific ideas and access to data has exploded in the first decades of the 21st century. These include advancements in molecular biology that have enabled researchers to better understand the structure-function relationship of nucleic acids and proteins as it relates to human health. These contemporary understandings in molecular biology are often unknown to secondary-level teachers and can be difficult for secondary-level students to learn as it requires them to use and integrate multiple levels of biological organization. Advances in computational power and access provide a unique opportunity to make molecular biology accessible to all students by bringing it to life in the classroom. Teachers need supportive, ongoing professional development to successfully integrate these investigative practices into their classrooms. The overall goal of the SHaping of Authentic Practices by Engaging in Modeling of A Topic with Teachers to Explore Research in Science (SHAPE MATTERS) project is to engage high school science teachers in a rigorous professional development experience that will impact 100s of students per participating teacher. Specific Aim 1: The SHAPE MATTERS team will develop and implement a professional development experience for teachers to increase their knowledge of the scientific practices involved in molecular biology research. Teachers will examine a series of molecular stories of current research projects and then work directly with a research mentor to explore a specific phenomenon and associated investigative strategies in molecular biology. They will ultimately develop a 3-dimensional model of the relevant molecule and present a new molecular story. Specific Aim 2: Biomolecular science curriculum will be created within Central Pennsylvania secondary schools centered on authentic scientific practices through the SHAPE MATTERS program. With researcher and science education faculty support, educators will develop and implement classroom research projects (CLRPs) with high school students. From this, teachers will generate an Impact Report documenting the impact of the curriculum on their instructional practice as well as student learning and interest. The curriculum will be disseminated broadly across Pennsylvania. Specific Aim 3: SHAPE MATTERS will establish SMART teams in Pennsylvania to engage teachers and students in modeling practices through authentic research projects connected to the basic biology and chemistry concepts. Participating high school students across Pennsylvania will showcase their molecular stories in the community-based symposium event. Magnolia Consulting will lead the program evaluation using a treatment-group only, mixed-methods approach. The evaluation will use data collected through the review of program artifacts and records, interviews, online surveys, and observations to examine the development, implementation, and perceptions of the SHAPE MATTERS summer workshop, CLRPS, and SMART teams.
Effective start/end date5/1/203/31/25


  • National Institute of General Medical Sciences: $261,554.00
  • National Institute of General Medical Sciences: $267,151.00
  • National Institute of General Medical Sciences: $257,306.00
  • National Institute of General Medical Sciences: $182,253.00


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