Jul 23, 2018 5:31 AM

Portions of this NSF Collaborative award supports science outreach classes at SoundBioLab, a non-profit, community-supported, Do-It-Yourself (DIY) biology laboratory located in Seattle, Washington.  This program offers introductory biology and biotechnology classes to students of any age at a discounted rate.

SoundBio, supported by the SBOL team, recently held a science outreach event to provide hands-on and engaging science activities and lessons to elementary school kids at Sacajawea Boys & Girls Club. As child care program, Sacajawea serves youth ages 5-12 in the Maple Leaf neighborhood. We thought this would be a great opportunity to bring science directly to children as well as partner with an amazing child care program.

Because of the wide range of ages, we decided to split the students into 2 groups: grades 1-3 and grades 4-5. This allowed us to provide a more customized lesson based on the students’ scientific understanding and capabilities. With 8 SoundBio volunteers and 4 Sacajawea staff members, 39 students received lessons about camouflage, ears & soundwaves, microscopes, and DNA.

During the Ears & Soundwaves lesson, 1-3 graders got to learn about different ear shapes found in nature and how soundwaves travel. During the activity students got to design their own ears! This resulted in some pretty spectacular designs.

The same students then learned about why animals hide and how it helps them. The students looked at pictures of different animals using camouflage in their natural environment. Then, using patterned paper as the background the kids cut out animal shapes and colored them to create camouflage!

The older students in grades 4-5 participated in the Microscope Exploration and DNA Extraction lessons.

During the Microscope Exploration lesson, students learned about how microscopes help scientists see objects that are invisible to the naked eye. Students then used the microscope to look at the structures of common items like table salt and onion cells. Finally, each student was challenged to make their own slides using cardboard and tape.

During the final lesson, students learned about traits, genes, and DNA. Students were asked to identify different inheritable traits like eye color, ear shape, and tongue rolling. We then connected these traits with genes and DNA. To support the lesson, students extracted DNA from strawberries using teamwork and measuring skills to create a DIY DNA extraction solution.

This was a fantastic event! The students and volunteers were engaged and had fun learning about science. Additionally, each student was given a handout to take home and continue the discussion of science with their parents and siblings in an effort to broaden this event to the larger community.

For more information about this program, buzz on over to SoundBioLab Membership at SoundBioLab.