3rd Toxicogenomics Laboratory ASL Activity

Last year we started using our pharmacogenomics laboratory to reach out to students in the community. This year we invited 6th through 8th graders from a local schools. I have asked the pharmacogenomic students for feedback on their experiences as they served as student teachers. A repeating cycle is one of the interesting ways to think about teaching. If you are a student responding I would ask that you comment on your use (or not) of this cycle as well as addressing the following ASL reflection points:

  • How does your service learning experience relate to the objectives of this course?
  • What did you observe?
  • What did you learn?
  • What has worked? What hasn’t?
  • Is there something more you could do to contribute to the solution?
  • What have you learned about yourself?
  • What have  you learned about teaching?
  • What have you contributed to the students?
  • What values, opinions, beliefs have changed?
  • What was the most important lesson you learned
  • How have you been challenged?
  • What impact did you have on the community?

27 thoughts on “3rd Toxicogenomics Laboratory ASL Activity

  1. Teaching as well as learning is definitely a synergistic process. Through clear communication, understanding and question each person learns about and interacts based on the knowledge presented. Working with the children from the middle school was like looking at a reflection of our selves when we first learn concepts. We provided them with the same background information and the technique used to accurately demonstrate the underlining point. The objective in any course is of course to learn, that being said after we ourselves were taught the experiment then were we able to clearly demonstrate our knowledge to the students. Referencing to the cycle, the process is the same for anyone. First we engaged them in a conversation about illness and what they know from prior knowledge and built upon these concepts. Second, questioned concepts and why things are done in a particular matter (e.g: go to the doctors office for antibiotics if a sickness is bacterial). Third, explained the experiment and how it applies to real life and elaborated of its use. Student’s evaluated the experiment for themselves by using the technique (e.g micropippeting) and engaging with us as well as questions.
    We observed how ELISA works and applies to modern life. Teaching the children was a good way to communicate with the youth and engage them in a college experience I wish I had as a student. This enables them to broaden their horizons and understand the developing field of science. Teaching these students made me feel like I was able to adequately teach them and explain concepts to other people no matter the age difference. I feel the most challenging was making sure the student knew what they were doing and why because they were almost afraid to question. I believe teaching these students will make an impact on their lives as well for the students truly interested in the field of science by answering the fundamental question that students, teachers and children alike ask- why? In the end its about understand and educating those for new ideas to proliferate.

    • I agree, communication with the children was an important aspect of this laboratory experiment. It is key in understanding everything.

  2. As part of our Academic Service Learning (ASL) activity, our Toxicogenomics laboratory class carried out our ELISA based immunological analysis along with both 6th and 8th grades students from a local school. It was a new experience for me, because this time around I was doing the teaching and I had to do it right because I didn’t want to give my student the wrong information and techniques as well as alter the outcome of our experiment. As I looked around the room, I could see how nervous and excited each student was. During our lecture portion, a good amount of the kids interacted and answered the questions, which was really nice to see because at such a young age they knew the answers to these questions.

    I learned how to take the knowledge that was taught to me and pass it onto someone else in such a way that they could also understand it too. Also, this was my second time conducting the ELISA analysis, so I was more prepared. The children were very eager to learn, especially since they were the ones carrying out the experiment. After the laboratory lecture was conducted, we helped the kids understand the different type of techniques associated with the experiment before they began anything. For example, we taught them how to properly use a micropipettor such as how to hold it, how to pipette, how to properly set the measurements, and so forth. I learned that teaching can be both an easy and a hard job. Compared to teaching a classroom filled with students to a single student, teaching a single student is a little easier because you’re only working with one person. Also, teaching is much easier when you actually teach yourself from beforehand; when you know what you’re talking about it is not difficult to pass that information on to others. It was a little challenging because even though I went over the lab experiment a few times, I was still nervous that I wouldn’t be able to teach the experiment properly and somehow ruin it. Even though the entire experiment was done correctly and the results were on point, I was still a little worried that we wouldn’t see the changes in color at the end.

    It was a great experience to interact with the 6th and 8th graders. They were so eager to learn. It did not take them long to fully grasp the concepts and master them. We even got to know more about them and their school work and what they wanted to be when they became older. As the teachers, we told them about our experiences and gave them a bunch of tips to take into consideration. When the sample began to turn blue, you could see that the students knew they had done something right and felt accomplished. As result, I felt accomplished.

    • I agree it was definitely easier to teach them because it was one-on-one and because we did it again as the second time. I felt we were adequately prepared and the lecture beforehand gave a good background. I think this experience puts you back to our childhood and gives you an opportunity to see how much you have grown, thus a feeling of accomplishment.

  3. Performing this ASL lab gave me an insight on what it is to teach. This Toxicogenomics Laboratory course is a requirement for the course, but the principles of the course are something that one has to learn on his own. The ASL lab gave me an opportunity to reflect on my learning in the course. I realized that the best way to learn or study something is by teaching it to someone else. By explaining the lab to the students and teaching them step by step how the ELISA worked, I was going over the information and concepts I learned and further concreted the knowledge in my head. Working with the students and going over the protocol I learned the significance of each step of the lab we performed and realized why we did each step as I explained it to the student. The students were very eager to do the experiment and use all the equipment and were very interested about why we were performing each step. They asked questions about how and why the experiment worked, and my lab partners and I explained the reasoning using the practical example of strep throat. By working with these young students, I learned how to put complex scientific material into a simpler form so that it could be understood by the students.
    The students interacted with me and my lab partners and actively asked and answered questions. They seemed to have a good grasp on the material because they were even answering their own questions. My students got very good results; the outcome was exactly as expected and there was no contamination from the other wells. Their genuine interest in science and the experiment surprised me because I was expected to teach a room full of snotty, evil children. My group worked very well together, and there was a lot of interaction between the students, my lab partners, and myself. I saw the spark of interest in the students, and hopefully that spark continues to fuel their interest in science so they can pursue the science majors they talked to me about.

  4. Our toxicogenomic lab taught 6th to 8th graders lab techniques and performing an ELISA experiment. I realized that the way you teach concepts has a tremendous affect on students. I observed that when you draw images, and show the students the procedure they can grasp the concepts better. Also communicating with the 6th and 8th graders in complex terminologies confuses them, you have to sit there and break it down so they can understand and comprehend the material at their own pace. I learned that there is no such thing as complex materials, if you can break it down into simpler materials it can be very easy to understand. The challenging part was to teach them the concept at an elementary level and not a college level. Since I am used to talking to my classmates at a college level, I had to keep on reminding myself that they were younger and I had to use different strategies to teach them the concept. Also I had to be prepared to answer any questions that they might have had. I observed that they were very shy or intimidated to ask questions, as students we had to make them feel comfortable to ask any questions. The important part was to answer their questions correctly as to why certain procedures are done and also be patient if students don’t understand the concept the first time. When Dr. Gillespie introduced the concept of bacterial infections, we built upon that concept. Students were asked the question of what can eradicate the bacterial infection. Performing the ELISA lab gave these students an experience of what to expect in college and especially for those students that are seeking a career in the science fields. The important aspect I learned is communication in key to teaching a concept to anyone. It was a great experience working with 6th and 8th graders and performing the ELISA experiment. It was a rewarding experience to teach them and when they knew why the samples turned blue, I felt I explained the concept to them correctly.

  5. In this lab, we guided 6th through 8th graders in performing the ELISA procedure for academic service learning. This lab gave us the opportunity to spread the knowledge and laboratory techniques that we learn in the toxicogenomics lab course. In teaching the middle schoolers, I observed that many of them are very quick learners and were able to get a good handle on the general concepts behind the ELISA procedure, even if they did not, of course, fully understand the specifics. I learned that in teaching the students, it is best to keep things simple but to treat the kids as if they are on a college level. This gives them the confidence to carry out the techniques without overwhelming them.
    With regards to the cycle, I found that I did use it for the most part during the ELISA. Before each step, I explained to the students why the step was about to be performed, then I showed them how to carry out the technique, then I engaged them by allowing them to carry out the technique and elaborated on the outcome of performing the technique. I learned that, even though I thought I don’t, I do have the ability to communicate with younger kids and teach them these somewhat difficult concepts. I learned that the students themselves are much more capable to understand the concepts and techniques than I had originally thought they would be, because of how young they are. If they are communicated with as if they are college students, they respond well to that and my students seemed to very much enjoy carrying out the ELISA procedure and were especially impressed by the end results. Although it was somewhat challenging, I did my best to make sure the students understood what they were doing every step of the way, and I enjoyed teaching them very much.

  6. In this lab, we preformed ASL work by working side by side with children in grades six through eight while doing an ELISA experiment. We preformed the same experiment in a different and slightly more challenging method the week before. This allowed us to become accustomed to the material so that we felt comfortable teaching it to the younger students. I noticed that the kids that we were working were eager to learn about the processes that were used. They loved watching how the substance changed colors and they were excited to see the results. The girl that I worked with was in eighth grade and was always asking me questions about what was going on during the experiment. I felt like I had enough background information to adequately answer her questions. She did have some trouble using the equipment, especially when using the micropipetters. I had to go over that with her multiple times until she understood how it worked.
    In the end, the experiment was successful for our table. Everything bound correctly to the wells and the colors changed in the appropriate well. The kids were fascinated by this. I like teaching them because it was a new experience with me. I, personally, am not a fan of children because of my low patience level. I thought that this would cause me to get frustrated but I realized that I had fun teaching them the material. At first I was nervous to help the children because I was afraid that I wasn’t going to be able to give them the correct information when they asked a question. Throughout the lab I became more confident in myself because I knew the material better than I thought I did. I often help my friends with their homework and teach them how to do things so it was a similar experience teaching the middle schoolers. This kind of teaching allows me to comprehend and learn the material as well.

  7. In this lab of toxicogenomic we taught 6th, 7th and 8th grades the lab techniques, the lab was on ELISA enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. What I learned from this lab was the teaching helps you more about certain concepts while explaining them, we taught the topic that we had already performed the previous week and had good knowledge of it. We explained as well as read the ELISA lab procedure while we were performing the experiment I realized that many of the students were very clever and quickly picked up the concept and observed what we were teaching them and how it is like to be a college level student. Some of the techniques were used first time by them for example using the micropipettes, so when I taught them how it works only once he picked up quickly and started what the ELISA procedures was asking them to do. Some of them very shy in asking questions while others wanted to gain more knowledge and spent their time wisely, I had to be extremely patience since explaining all the information took longer for them to understand. First we asked them the questions that were asked in the lab manual as well as later we explained them in more details. My group was very focused and wanted to learn more about the lab as well as general college level education. Sometimes they lost focus but we had to push them to let’s go ahead and see what is our next step in the lab procedure. If they were college level student I am sure they would have done a great job performing ELISA lab, they were up for the challenge and did gain a lot of information on lab techniques, the lab itself was done well by my group they correctly found the color change in the right well which they were fascinated by and very glad that they had successful lab.

  8. Participating in the ASL lab gave me more of an understanding to the experiment we taught, the first time when we did the lab I understood what was going on and how to do the lab and the purpose of it, but by teaching it I knew that I would need to know more. More as in, in depth of the lab down to bits and pieces, it was the only way I would feel prepared if in case one of the students asked a question, I wanted to be able to know that I would be able to provide any answer to any question one might have had. Also it just made the lab more easier to do with the students considering I’ve done it prior. For example, when you watch a movie multiple times you pick up on things you didn’t from the last time you may have watched it. Thats just like this, not only were we teaching the students but at the same time we were teaching ourselves and learning more of what we may have missed the previous time. Also by getting to interact with the 8th graders it was like a cool opportunity to talk with them about why we have an interest for science and that once they reach the college level they will be able to say the same. One of the little girls in my group expressed her love for science but said it was too hard and sometimes she just felt like she wasn’t smart enough but when we did the lab and asked questions she answered with ease and I felt like something like this could be like a confidence booster for young kids. My lab group worked very well with all this students and I know we made it fun and not just extremely serious, we were able to interact amoungst each other and still get the lab done and also able to learn exactly what we needed to.

    • I like how it seems you learned more the second time you did the lab cause that’s how i felt as well, also you are right it was nice to see the “younger” view on science

  9. As part of our Toxicology lab we did an ASL (academic service learning) activity. We invited students from a local school, grades 6-8, and did our ELISA based immunological analysis with them. It was an exciting experience for me because I love teaching little kids. I use to volunteer at a shelter and help younger kids with their homework so I’ve had experience teaching kids. This time it was especially unique because we had to teach them step by step the protocol. As a safety precaution we had to make sure that they knew how to do every step and how to work with the materials and instruments that we gave them. We didn’t want to give them any wrong information so we had to know our information. This helped us to realize if we actually knew the concepts of the lab.

    Before we actually started the lab, Dr. Gillespie engaged them to speak about what they knew about illness and the immune system. He broke down the background of this experiment in terms that 6-8th graders can understand. He questioned them with concepts that helped them with the experiment. (For example: the doctor gives you antibiotics if you have a viral infection or a bacterial infection?) He also explained how the experiment is relevant to real life. After Dr. Gillespie was done, we individually explained the experiment to our student again to make sure that they knew what they were going to do. He taught them and let them practice using micropipettes. They were extremely excited when working with these because it looked “high-tech” to them. When they got the hang of using it we started the experiment and helped them step by step. We made sure they knew what to do because we wanted the experiment to turn out right so they can see the actual results.

    In regards to teaching being a repeating cycle, I agree with it and I realized that I used most of the steps. I explained to my student why we were doing the step and I showed them how to do the step. Then I made them explain to me what the step was so I knew they knew what they were doing.

    This was a great experience to have because we got to experience how to teach first hand. We also got to test if we actually knew the concepts or not. The 6-8th graders were so eager to learn. They asked a lot of scientific questions, which I was shocked about because I didn’t think they would be this engaged into the experiment. When the experiment was done I questioned them on why A turned blue but B didn’t and they answered me correctly. This made me happy because I knew I explained it well enough for them to understand and remember it.

    • I too agree that I didn’t think the students would be so engaged in learning about the lab. They were so eager to learn! And the questions that they asked were so detailed and thorough. I loved teaching the students because I too felt that it tested me on whether or not I knew the concepts.

  10. As part of our Toxicogenomics Laboratory course we performed an ASL (academic service learning) activity. During this activity 6th through 8th graders from a local school were invited to perform a college level lab protocol. The lab we taught them about and helped them perform was our ELISA (enzyme linked immunosorbent assay) based immunological analysis. Our class had performed this experiment the week before and had learned the concepts behind the experiment. However, while performing the lab the first time my group was unable to obtain accurate results because we had accidently added the wrong substance at the wrong time. This mistake made me make sure I knew the lab inside and out because I wanted to be able to answer any question the students mite ask accurately and make sure they obtained good result when doing the experiment on their own.
    When I first entered the lab and saw the students, I was a little nervous. I was afraid that they wouldn’t be interested in the lab at all or understanding the science behind it. However, I was wrong. Dr. Gillespie started off by engaging the students to share what they knew about the immune system and building on their prior knowledge. He broke things down to their level and related the experiment to a trip to the doctor’s office (using to ELISA to determine if you have strep throat). As he explained the lab, the students we showed excitement as the asked and answered questions about the lab. This reminded me of the way my peers and I respond to new material in lab. After Dr. Gillespie finished, we explained the lab individually to the student to make sure they knew what they were doing and why they were doing it. We showed them how to use equipment, such as the micropipettes. The students were really excited to use this new equipment and perform the experiment to obtain a result. We guided the students step by step through the protocol, in order to make sure they would obtain accurate results. I was thrilled at the end when our students had observed the blue color change because they had performed the experiment successfully.
    From this experience I learned that teaching a concept to someone is actually quite easy if you understand it. Further more, when you explain a concept to someone it not only helps you understand it better, but reinforces it in your brain as well. I feel that teaching the 6th through 8th graders was a wonderful experience because they were eager to learn and grasped the concepts of the lab.

  11. How does your service learning experience relate to the objectives of this course?
    in the course of toxicology the Elisa test is one of those best suited and most importantly cost efficient way of testing for a pathogenic like substance in a body, without knowing what your going up against its near-impossible to be able to take action
    What did you observe?
    we observed a test to determine if there was a presence of secondary antibodies in response to an assumed bacterial pathogen.
    What did you learn?
    theres more that meets the eye and sometimes kids can be really smart
    What has worked? What hasn’t?
    when i ran the test by myself i had some cross flooding from errors while cleaning with the washes so i took extra care to make sure they did not repeat my mistake and they did not.
    What have you learned about yourself?
    I dont hate little children as much as i thought
    What have you learned about teaching?
    its easy, but not fun
    What have you contributed to the students?
    i tried to tell them all they sciency stuff i could but there young it didnt really hold their interest so my group tried for more of a relating the lab to real life
    What values, opinions, beliefs have changed?
    I finally got to see the Elisa experiment preformed with intended results so i guess that was a plus
    What was the most important lesson you learned
    over thinking isnt good
    How have you been challenged?
    i guess only trying to make the sciences of toxicology sound more appealing and to rationalize the neeed for such studies
    What impact did you have on the community?
    hopefully there are some more children who now have aspirations and desires to figure out more about how our world and natural settings react to form what we consider life

    • What have you contributed to the students?
      i tried to tell them all they sciency stuff i could but there young it didnt really hold their interest so my group tried for more of a relating the lab to real life

      It was similar situation my group came across, but as soon as we started to relate ELISA test importance and how this is used real life they started to ask questions and taking interest. I think explaining everything in a story version helps.

  12. Basically, our task for this lab is to teach 6th and 8th grade students (from Holy Family School) ELISA, or Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay experiment. As usual, Mishkat and I paired up again this time but only in teaching instead of running a regular experiment for ourselves. At the beginning, I noticed that most of them were very intimidated; at least my students seemed to be kind of “restrained”. During the time, Mishkat was more focus on preparing and asking the questions to the students. On the other hand, I was in charge of demonstrating some parts of the experiment to them, such as pipetting and blotting.
    I was worried that I was not able to interpret the contents to them thoroughly as many ideas behind this lab might be pretty distant from a 6th grade student’s life. However, I felt that I did “lecture” my student well as I “showed” them some step instead of doing it for them. Also, I would say that I learned things again as I taught. When I was teaching one student how to use micropipette, Dr. Gillespie walked by and kindly told that how I should ask the students to use both hands to hold the lower part of the micropipette to avoid shaky hands. I certainly forgot that “golden rule” until he mentioned to me at the time. And then I absorbed that immediately by telling my students.
    Therefore, I felt this kind of ASL activity gave a great opportunity to not only help others more or less but also improve my practical lab skills.

    • I liked how you used this opportunity to experience how to teach younger students, as well as teach yourself while you were explaining the tasks and how to use the equipment.

    • Juni, I felt me and you as a team did a great job explaining the concept to them. We separated the tasks, so we can teach the student in an effective manner. Juni was mostly doing the blotting and I explained why she was doing the blotting. Together I think we did a fantastic job explaining the ELISA experiment to them.

  13. For this lab, we had the opportunity to teach 6th through 8th through the academic service learning activity. Before any of the teaching began by any of us, the class started with a presentation directed towards the 6th through 8th graders level. This helped me to understand at what level I should be explaining the information while my student was doing the lab. What was hard for me during this lab was trying to simplify overly complicate concepts, because I did not know how to simplify of the concepts. Whenever, I saw that I was losing my student during the lab and I could not figure out an easier way to say what I had just said, I would use analogies that she could relate to so that she could understand the more complicated concept in the experiment.
    While teaching my student, I followed a procedure of my own. First, I would explain what the student was about to do especially when it came to using new equipment such as the micropipette. I informed my student of all the things that could go wrong after I told her how to use the equipment like for example explaining the problem with air bubbles in the pipette. After, I would allow her to do what I had told her to do and if she had problems, I would show her on the first well and allow her to do the remaining wells on her own. Whenever there was a waiting step, I would take the opportunity to ask my student questions of why we did certain steps in the procedure and explained to her about certain concepts as well. I learned that teaching someone else was actually quite amusing and it gave me a chance to finally show what I knew to someone else and to help her to understand the experiment that I had only done just the week before. I realized that the more inquisitive that the student is the more willing and eager the teacher is to explain concepts that he/she may be curious about or that he/she didn’t completely understand. I enjoyed explaining concepts to my student and figuring out a new simpler way to explain a concept even though at times it was a challenge. Teaching my student was very rewarding and gave me a sense of pride being a mentor to someone who was younger than me. This experience is different from anything that I have ever done in my St. John’s career and I am glad that I was able to be a part of this academic service learning activity.

    • You seem to have had a very strong and personal response to this activity and many of the points that you have made resonate with me as the experience I had was also very similar. I almost forgot how hard it was to simplify the concepts untill you mentioned it. The way that I ended up doing it was drawing it out for the student I had.

  14. Being a student in a lab sometimes means having instructions which may seem be given and one would think why is the professor wasting his or her time. Having the experience of being a teacher to another student who was a beginner changed the question of why are they wasting their time to that’s why they do this. My experience was quiet interesting as the students I had so were so scared they would break something and they repeatedly said sorry when they thought something went wrong. The challenge was remembering that rushing them was not a good idea and that they needed extra time to do things as well as a proper simple explanation because they weren’t use to this. Something I learned from them was that it was there first time in a laboratory so they were curious and scared as they taught the fume hoods were brain suckers. What I learned about teaching is that it requires a lot of patience and understanding to be a teacher because not all students are the same and need their own time to adapt or understanding what is being learned. What worked was having the two I worked take turns as one person going first made it look easy for the other and then they were less scared. I learned that whoever went first when starting a new step, would be nervous and then the second person would be less nervous. My values about teaching have changed somewhat as to why TA’s or professors go into so much detail and explanation before lab is so that we fully understand what is happening. Due to the fact that we had a good pre lecture in the previous lab we were better able to the answer the questions the girls had and give and explanation about how vaccinations are made and how immunity is established. The effect I had on the community was that I sent another student out there with a little knowledge of how ELISA testing works and what it is. Although it is not a great affect on the community a student being exposed to this at such a young age helps to open a window of a new career they might be interested in or even get them interested in the sciences.

  15. The cycle of the 5 e’s is something that seems to be apparent all throughout my own education. A simplification of this cycle would be to understand and then to reinforce my own understanding by explaining to another. The ASL activity was helpful in reinforcing a concept that was learned in the previous lab as well as providing a experience of “running a lab”. This proved to be a valuable experience not only as an experience for the middle school students but as a change of pace for us as well.

  16. The ASL activity was by far my favorite lab. Though we had already performed the ELISA lab, I learned so much more by teaching the 6th through 8th graders from Holy Family School. The students were extremely intelligent and asked so many awesome questions which related directly to the lab. I realized how much I have learned this semester. I remember my first lab when I was scared of destroying the experiment by messing up with the pipet, which is something I can do second nature now. The students were so afraid to pippet at first, which brought back memories of this. I found it so amazing how we were able to simplify the lab so that 6th graders could understand what an ELISA test is. Science is truly an amazing topic, and I think that the students definitely discovered this.

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