Implementing Regenerative Labs in High School
Grades 3-12 Education Grant Recipient: Tami Limberg
Grant Period: 2015-2016
Site: Great River School, St. Paul, MN
One of the challenges currently facing high school science teachers is engaging students in lab experiments and promoting the self-confidence needed to participate in class and enjoy the material. There are some schools that are directly addressing these issues, such as Great River School in St. Paul and MacDowell Montessori in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Using interactive teaching methods, educators empower their students by allowing them to design their own projects and collaborate with fellow classmates while also receiving guidance from teachers.
Utilizing her experience with this educational approach, Tami Limberg received funding from Regenerative Medicine Minnesota (RMM) to develop a regenerative lab for her students at Great River School. Nick Beerman, a teacher at Montessori High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, also helped generate the lesson plans and put the labs into practice.
Students are given a basic background on stem cells, discuss the topic with other students, and collaborate with each other on developing hypotheses and performing experiments. They work primarily with planaria, a type of flatworm, as they are easy to experiment with in a high school environment. Limberg and Beerman use computer technology to give frequent feedback to help guide their students through the experimental design and lab report process and measure student learning. College students from Hamline University who are training to be teachers also assist the high schoolers with their projects.
At the beginning of the school year, Limberg found that her students knew next to nothing about the science behind this rapidly-growing field. By the end of the stem cell unit, though, student knowledge on the topic grew substantially. This is despite the fact that regenerative medicine isn’t codified in the Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or Minnesota educational guidelines.
In putting together the lesson plans and lab experiments, Limberg and Beerman were not alone; they received assistance from various faculty members at the University of Minnesota Stem Cell Institute. Susan Keirstead, for example, helped to establish valuable connections with fellow educators. They also relied on Jonathan Marchant’s work on stem cell lesson planning, and Randy Daughters contributed substantially to the regenerative medicine lab program.
Limberg and Beerman attended the Regional Regeneration Symposium at Macalester College to showcase their results and inform others on the importance of stem cell education and interactive learning approaches. They plan on attending other events in the near future.
Ultimately, Limberg and Beerman are equipping their students with a well-rounded science education that will help with their future endeavors and enable them to be knowledgeable and informed citizens when they vote and read the news.
By providing a solid foundation of stem cell and general science knowledge, Limberg and Beerman’s program is one of many tasked with gearing young people up for their future careers and increasing scientific literacy in Minnesota and around the country. RMM is proud to support these endeavors.
Tami Limberg grew up near the Twin Cities and attended the University of Minnesota - Morris. After graduating with a degree in Biology, she gained experience through various internships around the country. After five years of environmental education and conservation work, Limberg began teaching high school science. She currently teach at Great River School working along side students in the biology classroom, kitchen, and garden.
Nick Beermann was raised in the Twin Cities and attended the University of Minnesota. After graduating with a degree in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, he joined the Milwaukee Teaching Fellows and began teaching in Milwaukee, WI. Beermann currently teaches at MacDowell Montessori School.