Thursday, July 29, 2010

Week 5 RET

Dr. Helen Fawcett was kind enough to provide the teachers with microscopes that could be viewed in the classroom on the overhead projector. I will use this microscope throughout the year. All students may bring in whatever they are interested in viewing!

Week 5 RET

The Scanning Electron Microscope, as you can see, produces very sharp and clear images at small scales. This is a photo of a mosquito. Do you recognize any specific parts?

Week 5 RET

We go to see how and SES- Scanning Electron Microscope works this week. Basically, it is a microscope that uses a beam of electrons that interact with the atoms that make up the sample that is being viewed. Signals are produced that contain information about the sample's surface, composition and other properties. We looked at our photolithography nano-pattern and viewed the imperfections as seen in this picture. Can you see what magnification this is at? Can you see what size this particle is?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Week 4 video

This video will definitely not win an academy award but I do not think it is too bad for my first go at it!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Week 4

Another workshop involved learning how to use software in the laboratory setting. The instructor clearly explained the mechanicals behind computer science and technology and gave me the confidence I needed to explore this unfamiliar territory. Swampscott High School has access to software and materials that I have not had time to use and get accustomed to. I will make a goal of mine this year to take advantage of all my resources.

Week 4

This week involved many workshops on pedagogy or educational lessons. Problem based learning is a teaching tool designed to get students to think critically and work in teams to design solutions to problems. It is a wonderful technique that I already use in my classroom but will definitely think of new ideas and case studies for this year. The RET teachers worked on solving the problem of building a smaller and more efficient wind turbine that was not costly. It was fun and gave me some insight into how teachers also need to work together and collaborate.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


We finished up in the clean room today. The mask etchings that we made last week in the clean room were used. First, we prepared our silicon wafer by pouring a chemical photoresist on it and spinning it in a machine. Then we baked it and placed it into another machine that contained the mask. Basically, the mask was imprinted into the wafer using Ultrviolet light. We then baked our wafer again and cleaned it in a developer that took off the photoresist and exposed our pattern from the mask. It was a very intense process and I was grateful to have had the chance to experience this.

Monday, July 12, 2010


During any free/wait time, I am constantly thinking of demonstrations and ways to bring my wonderful experience back into the classroom. I have lots of great ideas and this program is also supplying funds to purchase items I need to do exciting demonstrations and labs. Here is a picture of one of them demonstrations I will be showing my classes. They will have to wait and see it for real and come up with an explantion as to what they are seeing!

Week 3 RET

We went to split our cells from our cell culture to grow cells for experimentation on thursday. Unfortunately, when we took our incubated cells that were growing in the medium out of the incubator, the cells were contaminated with mold. We had to discard the cells. We believe the contamination came from the oven itself as the water pan in the incubator seemed to be the source of contamination. We bleached the cells to kill them all and disposed of them. We have to start again from scratch on thursday after the incubator all its parts are cleaned and autoclaved in a hot oven. This will set us back a week and we won't be able to use real cells in our experiment for about another week or so.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Week Two RET Experience

I have a lot of new experiences to talk about for this week. I had my first experience in a clean room environment where we made masks. I believe a masks is a glass/chrome plate covered with photo resist. It is then etched with a laser. The etching pattern is entered into a computer and the computer tells the laser what to do. We etched this plate and then developed it as you would when you develop a photo in a print shop. The plate was placed in a stripper that exposed the pattern and then into a developer where the photoresist was removed and the pattern was further exposed. This plate/pattern will be used in the next step that will lead to the final product. We will continue to learn about this process step by step or week by week. I hope to have a better understanding as each week progresses.
We also learned how to culture or grow cells. I have not done this since college, which was so long ago. The process was very easy to understand but it is the technique that is crucial. When working with live cells, one must be very sterile or the cells will be contaminated and no good. We used cells that were frozen in -80 degrees celcius-COLD! They were thawed out in room temperature water as to slowly warm them without harming them. They were brought into a fume hood where all the equipment and materials were sterilized with 70% ethanol. The cells were placed in a growth medium that contained phenol red dye. A change in dye color indicated that the cells were ready to divide. The cells were then split into two other growth plates si more cellular division could take place, hence more growing of cells to be used in experminentation.
This RET experience is getting better and better each week!!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Week One RET program at BU

I have started a six week program at Boston University at the Biophotonics Center called the Research Experience for Teachers. It is a grant given by The National Science Foundation to get students into research on real life applications and bring the knowledge back to the classroom. I have been assigned to work with a graduate student on a project that uses lasers and ultra sound to study the behavior of cells. The first week basically consisted of a lot of training on subject matters that pertain to biophotonics. Photonics is basically the study of light and how it behaves. They use the properties of light to study disease and behavior of cells through lasers , sensors and computers that read this behavior. I feel like a student again learning information for the first time. I am excited because my knowledge in this area is very minimal. I have already met a lot of new and interesting people that I could learn a lot from. I have sat in a meeting and listened in on the other biomedical projects being performed at BU which was so amazing and I will talk about them in the classroom this september. I am also working with teachers from other schools and disciplines and have been continually collaborating to bring new ideas back into the classroom. I feel very lucky to be a participant in this wonderful program.