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Biology students at High School South are pictured with their teacher Mrs. Wallace and Dr. Edwin Kamau during a lesson about DNA fingerprinting and analysis.   

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Dr. Edwin Kamau instructs students on how to properly use a MiniOne Gel Electrophoresis System during his visit to High School South.

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Mrs. Wallace Awarded $5,000 Grant from the NSTA

On November 30, 2017, High School South biology teacher Charlene Wallace attended the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Convention, which was held in New Orleans, LA. Her attendance at the convention was made possible by a $5,000 grant she was awarded from NSTA. While at the convention, she attended the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Train-the-Trainer Workshop.

In addition to attending the convention and workshop, Mrs. Wallace used $2,600 of the grant money to purchase highly advanced MiniOne Gel Electrophoresis Systems for her classroom. The systems are used for analyzing DNA and provide educators the opportunity to engage their students in the mechanics of DNA separation within the constraints of their classroom lab. The systems are STEM-centered since they draw insights from the many fields of science, technology, and engineering.

The grant also provided Mrs. Wallace the opportunity to work with the Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP), which paired her with Dr. Edwin Kamau, who heads the US Army Research Unit – Kenya at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, MD. The AEOP’s mission is to provide teachers and students with Army-sponsored STEM-centered programs aimed at engaging students and attracting them to future careers focusing in STEM.

In February, Mrs. Wallace and Dr. Kamau team taught DNA fingerprinting and analysis during her five biology classes at High School South. Dr. Kamau also shared his life experiences of growing up in Kenya, moving to the United States, and talked about his educational and Army career with students. After school, he held a presentation for South’s chapter of the Association of Students for Africa (ASFA).

Dr. Kamau currently leads an active malaria surveillance protocol in six sites across Kenya, with additional sites planned. He is involved with on-going efficacy trials in Western Kenya and focuses on drug resistance and drug resistance associated mutations and genetics. Dr. Kamau has a doctorate in biochemistry and molecular biology and is a member of the Plasmodium Diversity Network Africa (PDNA).

“This was a wonderful opportunity and rewarding experience for everyone involved,” said Mrs. Wallace. “With Dr. Kamau’s expertise and knowledge, we succeeded in achieving the AEOP’s mission and had an inspiring and successful day with all of the students.”

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