Advisory: Media invited to biotechnology workshop for Forsyth County school teachers

By Jacob McConnico
August 2, 2005

Members of the media are invited to Wake Forest University the week of Aug. 1 to 5 for the workshop "The Science Behind Biotechnology," being held in Salem Hall for middle school teachers from Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. The workshop meets each day from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Chemistry professor Rebecca Alexander, right, is using a National Science Foundation grant to fund a workshop on "The Science Behind Biotechnology" for science teachers from Forsyth County. She helps Philo Middle School teachers Susan Crump (in vest) and Jennifer Sasser extract DNA from a strawberry.

This year's workshop, organized by Rebecca Alexander, assistant professor of chemistry at Wake Forest, gives 16 teachers from several local middle schools a chance to learn about biotechnology; conduct laboratory investigations suitable for classroom adoption; explore computer and Internet resources related to biotechnology; take trips to working biotechnology laboratories; and meet researchers.

"The main goals of this workshop are to give teachers more information about this growing area and to provide classroom resources to get their students excited," Alexander said. "Biotechnology is important to the region, and we are trying to make sure that students are exposed from an early age."

Teachers in the program have isolated a glowing protein, constructed a model of DNA and extracted DNA from strawberries. This week, the group will explore how DNA is used in forensic evidence, conduct an experiment to determine whether certain store-bought foods have been genetically modified and take a trip to the Winston-Salem-based drug discovery firm Targacept Inc.

For more information, contact Jacob McConnico at or 336-758-5237.

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