Georgia State University’s Bio-Bus is a mobile laboratory that travels to Georgia schools and presents hands-on, inquiry-based activities designed to get K-12 students enthusiastic about science. Visits are staffed by “Bio-Bus Fellows,” graduate students and undergraduates who enjoy sharing their love of science with younger learners. Since its inception in 1999, the Bio-Bus program has made over 2,500 visits to schools in 31 Georgia counties, and in the process has presented exciting science experiences to more than 200,000 students. Our goal is not only to educate, but also to show students that science can be intriguing, interesting and, most of all, FUN.
Hands on, Minds On:
Georgia State’s Bio-Bus Program
Since the beginning of the Bio-Bus program, our guiding philosophy has been that science should be accessible to all Georgians. For this reason, we are committed to providing our services for free. We have been able to honor this commitment through the generous support we have received from Georgia State University and the state of Georgia, the National Science Foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute of Undergraduate Education, and the NIH Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) program.
Although most of our visits are made to public and private schools, we have given our presentations for a number of community organizations. We welcome scheduling inquiries from any interested group or organization. We would like to be able to visit any and every institution or group who would have us, but practical considerations limit us to those within one hour’s driving distance from downtown Atlanta. If you are more than one hour away from downtown Atlanta, and/or your group does not meet our priority criteria then we encourage you to contact us anyway. We make every effort to reach out to as many people as possible.
Special Program Updates:
“DNA is Elementary” is an eight-module series for students in grades K to 5 that introduces them to the fundamentals of heredity and helps them gain fluency in the language of DNA. Our basic premise is that DNA, which serves as the instruction manual for the cell, is effectively a language with its own letters (A, G, C, and T) that obey defined rules of grammar and syntax. Initiated in 2008 with support from the National Institutes of Health’s SEPA (Science Education Partnership Award) program (http://www.ncrrsepa.org/), “DNA is Elementary” is a set of engaging, age-appropriate activities that are especially designed to make the properties of DNA and genetics accessible and interesting to novice learners. To date, we have presented these modules to over 2400 students.
“Medicinal Plants: Merging Science and Folklore” is designed to give middle school students a true research experience. Over the course of three 60-minute sessions, students test herbal remedies that are purported to have antimicrobial properties against a battery of bacterial and yeast strains. Those showing antimicrobial activity are then subjected to paper chromatography and other fractionation techniques to enrich for the compounds responsible for the activity. Many of the students in Georgia have grown up in cultures that are rich in herbal folklore: for them, this class presents a unique opportunity to consider a community tradition from a scientific perspective. It also gives them experience in distinguishing science from pseudoscience. Even though this module was developed only recently (Fall, 2011), we have already made 38 trips to 9 schools, presenting the module to 1120 middle and high school students.