'Double' Helix Express - Outreach Education Reaches Record Numbers
Mobile Lab Registration Open for 2018-19 School Year
The Greenwood Genetic Center (GGC) expanded its outreach education program during the 2017-18 school year, and as a result, served over 13,000 students
– double its reach from the prior school year.
GGC’s outreach education program intensified in 2010 with the acquisition of the Gene Machine Mobile Science Laboratory which provides visits to schools
across SC. Students participate in hands-on laboratory activities and are exposed to careers in the life sciences – all at no cost to the schools.
“It wasn’t long until our schedule for the Gene Machine would fill up even before the start of the school year,” said Leta Tribble, PhD
Director of Education at GGC. “We were pleased to have so many requests for visits; however, that unfortunately meant that many schools who asked
us to come ended up on a waiting list.”
In the fall of 2017, with financial support from the SC Education Oversight Committee and the SC Department of Education, GGC was able to add additional
staff as well as purchase a cargo van, that employees dubbed The Helix Express. The Helix Express allowed education staff to transport laboratory
equipment to the schools for use within the classroom.
In 2017-18 school year, the education team at GGC, though 187 school trips made by the Gene Machine and Helix Express, as well as field trips to the
Greenwood campus, provided hands-on activities and STEM career exploration to 13,041 students. That compares to 6,540 served by the Gene Machine
in 126 trips over the 2016-17 school year.
“The addition of the Helix Express not only helped us eliminate the waiting list for visits, but also allowed us to serve larger class sizes since
the Gene Machine can only accommodate 24 students at a time,” said Tribble.
“We knew this had been an extraordinarily busy school year,” said genetics instructor Hannah Crawford
“But when we finally slowed down and tallied the numbers we were thrilled to see how many more students we were actually able to engage this year.”
The state funding
that supported the acquisition of the Helix Express
also allowed GGC’s Outreach Education program to have a stronger presence in more underserved and rural school districts across SC.
Mrs. Jerry Brigman, a science teacher at Chesterfield High School, shared, “This program is so very beneficial to rural schools like ours. Students
love the hands-on activities.”
Registration for the Gene Machine and Helix Express for the coming school year is now open. Teachers can request visits by completing the request form
Photo: GGC instructor, Hannah Crawford, works with students on a karyotyping activity in their classroom at Cherokee Trail Elementary School in Abbeville.