Kelly Lewis, Bioscience technology instructor at Eastland-Fairfield Career and Technical Schools, is always trying to show her students different “real world” applications of the skills they are learning in class. When she learned that Melanie Prarat, a researcher in the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory and GrowNextGen industry leader was doing a new type of electrophoresis, Lewis thought her students would find it interesting.
Prarat was able to show the class how the techniques they use in their labs are used every day in her industry. Lewis said, “It was a great way to wrap up our very extensive unit on genetic engineering. When she spoke of PCR, my students could directly relate to the terms as we just finished a lab using PCR to find a genotype for one of our own traits.”
Lewis continued, “I always tell my students that the information and skills they are learning cross all areas of science. Many think in terms of “I want to be a doctor, pharmacist, curer of cancer, etc.” but I sometimes feel like they don’t see those same concepts (DNA extraction, sequencing, etc) applied to anything but human cells. Melanie Prarat showed them that the science they are learning is integrated within all research and has an impact everywhere. Using genetic engineering ensures we have not only a safe food supply in the future, but also food to feed a growing population.”
Industry experts can help make the content and skills more relevant to the students. Here are some quotes from Lewis’s class:
“I loved getting to hear about careers that connect with what I want to do in the future, like food science.” Anisha Patel, Gahanna junior
“She gave us a very interesting perspective on her career. I never know how complex the Ohio Department of Agriculture is! An awesome presentation.” Jonelle Ramella, Groveport junior
“I loved how I was able to learn more about government work. I didn’t realize how you can do science in so many ways in the agriculture department.” Maelyn Cheng, Reynoldsburg junior
“I loved the presentation. The part that interested me was the security over food safety, such as with meat and dairy products. I never knew how cool the ODA was. The Ohio Department of Agriculture brings more than just agriculture, but safety from famine and illnesses and a service we all appreciate!” Nahor Hagos, Gahanna junior