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Mobile ‘Science Adventure Lab’ Brings Science Education to Washington Schools and 5,000 Students

September 23, 2009

With microscopes aligned, pipettes poised and centrifuges ready to spin, Seattle Children's hits the road this school year with its new mobile Science Adventure Lab, visiting both urban and rural schools to bring science education to children throughout Washington.

Seattle Children’s provides hands-on science to schools in need, free of charge

 

 

(PHOTOS: Visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/adventurelab/show/ to preview slideshow, or http://flickr.com/photos/adventurelab to download photos for media use)

SEATTLE: Sept. 23, 2009 – With microscopes aligned, pipettes poised and centrifuges ready to spin, Seattle Children's hits the road this school year with its new mobile Science Adventure Lab, visiting both urban and rural schools to bring science education to children throughout Washington. The colorful, 45-foot long vehicle is the nation’s only mobile science lab sponsored by a children’s hospital. Adventure Lab lessons were created to enrich existing classroom education and align with national and Washington state science standards.  The program is designed for students in 4th through 8th grades and is provided at no cost to schools, teachers, or parents.  

“Modeled after labs at our Research Institute, we hope the Science Adventure Lab will inspire the next generation of nurses, doctors and scientists,” said James Hendricks, PhD, president of Seattle Children's Research Institute. “Due to deep education cuts and the current economic climate, many children throughout our state lack opportunities to participate in high-tech science activities. The Science Adventure Lab will educate and spark the interest of tomorrow’s science leaders today. We feel it is our duty to make a difference in our communities, reaching young people with teachable moments where science, health and education come together.”  

In this school year alone, the Adventure Lab will reach approximately 5,000 students in 200 classes, from schools in Seattle to some of the most remote parts of the state.  Visits were requested by science teachers, principals and school districts and scheduled with Adventure Lab staff. The Adventure Lab schedule nearly filled before the school year began, and only a few openings remain.

The nearly 45-foot long vehicle was specially designed from the ground-up to be a rolling extension of Seattle Children’s Research Institute. Decorated in colorful imagery including cells, bacteria, viruses and chromosomes, the child-friendly mobile lab can accommodate classes of up to 28 children. With instruction led by two PhD-level science instructors, the mobile science lab includes:

  • Fully integrated audio/visual computer network, with VCR/DVD player, and four 26” LCD monitors that display teaching demos, hands-on lessons and videos
  • Ceiling-mounted camera, with audio speakers and work-station demo area that projects lessons to students at work stations
  • Laptop computers connected to a multi-purpose fax/scanner/printer, and wireless Internet network
  • Four extendable pop-outs that can increase useable interior space, plus an exterior awning and outside video screen
  • Comfortable laboratory environment including climate controls and air conditioning, fully vented air exchange, plumbing, sinks, and electrical power
  • Accommodations and wheelchair access for students and teachers with special needs
  • Seven state-of-the-art laboratory bench research stations, equipped with modern research equipment including microscopes, pipettes, centrifuges, respirometers, heat blocks, safety glasses, gloves and aprons  

“We’ve designed our lessons to complement the state’s science curriculum,” said Amanda Jones, PhD, director of Health and Science Education Outreach at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. “We also hope by reaching younger students with exciting, hands-on science experiments that they’ll form an interest in science that will grow over their lifetimes. Many of the experiments will also help students to make healthier lifestyle choices, aligning fun science education with issues that we know are greatly impacting child health.” 

All four of the modules offered by the Science Adventure Lab will be led by Children’s PhD-level instructors who have extensive backgrounds in education. During breaks in lessons, teachers will also serve as science ambassadors to highlight science and health care careers, providing early encouragement to young students. Each module includes three components: school classroom materials introducing the lab activity in advance, a visit from the Science Adventure Lab that includes hands-on experiments on-board, and a final classroom wrap-up. Lessons currently include:

  • Where is Your DNA?  Students learn first steps in advanced biotechnology applications by isolating and examining DNA from their own cheek cells, introducing concepts of genetics, DNA and chromosomes.
  • Seeking the Sugar Solution.  Students use a chemical reagent to discover just how much sugar is in a “mystery beverage,” making the connection between daily sugar consumption, nutrition and health.
  • It’s a Fine Balance.  Students explore normal lung function and asthma using a respirometer, plus learn how asthma can sometimes be treatable or even preventable.
  • Stop the Outbreak!  Students use DNA fingerprinting in a real-world scenario to learn how standard molecular biology techniques can be used to track the source of an infectious outbreak.

The Science Adventure Lab is sponsored by Purchase a Miracle, Washington state's grocery and drugstore campaign that benefits Seattle Children's. Carter Subaru in Seattle donated a companion Subaru Forester vehicle, and other gifts were provided by many contributors. The program is also supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

“Seattle Children’s is blessed by one of the most generous communities in the nation,” said Hendricks. “We couldn’t have begun to envision and create this important new educational outreach program without the phenomenal support of our donors and partners.”

Washington communities receiving visits this school year will include, in alphabetical order: Arlington, Bethel, Brush Prairie, Collville, Davenport, Edmonds, Federal Way, Graham, Inchelium, LaCrosse, Lind, Neah Bay, Northgate (Seattle), Northport, Oakesdale, Onion Creek, Puyallup, Renton, Rosalia, Seattle, Shoreline, Spanaway, Spokane, St. John, Tacoma, Tri-Cities/Yakima, Vancouver, Wellpinit and Wilkeson, plus others still being confirmed.

PHOTOS: For colorful previews and downloadable photos of the Science Adventure Lab interior and exterior, including children working at lab stations with a teacher, please visit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/adventurelab/show/ to preview slideshow, or http://flickr.com/photos/adventurelab to download photos for media use. (Photo credits: all interior photos should run with a photo credit that reads: “Benjamin Benschneider Photography, for Seattle Children’s Science Adventure Lab.” No credit needed for exterior shots).

For more information, a calendar of initial confirmed visits for schools, cities and towns, full curriculum descriptions, program details and instructor bios please visit: www. seattlechildrens.org/adventurelab. 

About Seattle Children’s Research Institute

Located in downtown Seattle’s biotech corridor, Seattle Children’s Research Institute is pushing the boundaries of medical research to find cures for pediatric diseases and improve outcomes for children all over the world. Internationally recognized investigators and staff at the research institute are advancing new discoveries in cancer, genetics, immunology, pathology, infectious disease, injury prevention and bioethics, among others. As part of Seattle Children’s Hospital, the research institute brings together leading minds in pediatric research to provide patients with the best care possible. Seattle Children’s serves as the primary teaching, clinical and research site for the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine, which consistently ranks as one of the best pediatric departments in the country. For more information, visit http://www.seattlechildrens.org/research.

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