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Integrating Engineering, Modeling, And Computation Into The Biology Classroom: Development Of Multidisciplinary High School Neuroscience Curricula

Gomez, Tara and Loson, Oliver and Yung, Douglas and Kadambi, Sindhuja and Lee, Paul and Rivas, Luz (2009) Integrating Engineering, Modeling, And Computation Into The Biology Classroom: Development Of Multidisciplinary High School Neuroscience Curricula. In: 2009 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, June 14-17, 2009, Austin, TX.

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The YESS program is a three-week summer residential course that brings together extraordinarily talented high school students from underrepresented minority groups to study at the California Institute of Technology. The YESS program is intended for students who exhibit an interest in engineering and science, and wish to engage in collaborative learning. During the three-week program, students take science courses and are exposed to laboratory tours, faculty lectures, and college admissions workshops. The neuroscience course for the 2008 YESS program was an intensive survey of many different fields, and used lectures, demonstrations and laboratory activities to teach topics such as brain anatomy, Drosophila melanogaster pain perception, electrophysiology, recombinant DNA technology, neuronal modeling, the molecular basis of learning and systems neuroscience. Neuroscience is a branch of biology, yet neuroscientists are typically highly diversified scientists and engineers. Neuroscience spans a wide array of disciplines that include engineering, mathematics, computer science, biophysics and medicine. The diversity found in the neurosciences evolved naturally because of the fields’ need for creative problem solving concerning the technical difficulties that plague experimentation with the brain. The California Institute of Technology’s neuroscience researchers have synergistic relationships between engineers and scientists of various disciplines, and together, they advance our knowledge in this field. In line with the efforts of our institution, we created a neuroscience curriculum that shows the interplay between engineering and biology, taking care to keep the material accessible for a gifted high school audience. The creation and implementation of a multi-disciplinary neuroscience curriculum for the YESS program is the focus of this paper. Specifically, we will address how we integrated engineering, mathematical modeling and computation into the curriculum as a tool for communicating intellectually rigorous ideas concerning the neurosciences. We assessed our curriculum using a system of pre- and post-examinations. By combining the results of these assessments with student surveys and feedback, we conclude that the integration of engineering, modeling and computation was an effective way to teach neuroscience. The modules we describe here, can be adapted by other educators in K-12 advanced science courses as a vehicle for introducing engineering concepts or in an engineering course as demonstratives of engineering applications in the life sciences.

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Additional Information:© 2009 ASEE. The authors would like to acknowledge the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation for funding the YESS program and the Caltech Minority Student Education office for all of their support in designing our course. We also acknowledge the Biology Division at Caltech for support. We thank Caltech faculty and personnel, Dr. Erin Schuman, Dr. Gilles Laurent and Dr. Elizabeth Bertani for allowing the YESS to use their classroom facilities and William Lease and Tim Heitzman for equipment support.
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Gordon and Betty Moore FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20161122-163847603
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Official Citation:Gomez, T., & Loson, O., & Yung, D., & Kadambi, S., & Lee, P., & Rivas, L. (2009, June), Integrating Engineering, Modeling, And Computation Into The Biology Classroom: Development Of Multidisciplinary High School Neuroscience Curricula Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:72266
Deposited On:23 Nov 2016 05:16
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 16:16

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