July 2002

From Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Singapore's Ministry of Education to improve life sciences education

Collaboration with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's Dolan DNA Learning Center (DNALC) and the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Singapore have signed a Memorandum of Understanding commencing a multi-year collaboration to develop two DNALC sister institutions in an effort to boost life sciences education in Singapore.

DNALC director David Micklos and other educators at the DNALC will lend their expertise to the Singapore Science Centre (which focuses on student activities and public outreach) and to the National Institute of Education (which provides pre- and in-service teacher training and classroom support), with the aim of improving genetics education throughout Singapore.

"The collaboration represents a unique experiment in science education - to see just how quickly a school system the size of Chicago's can gear up for the gene age," Mr. Micklos said. "With motivated students, devoted teachers and parents, a strong school authority, and excellent computer infrastructure, Singapore is poised to infuse hands-on biotechnology instruction into many levels of its education system. I am certain that they will succeed in developing a biology education system second to none. I'm thrilled to be involved."

Growing leaps and bounds since its independence in 1965, Singapore is now ranked fifth in world economies and is poised to surpass Hong Kong as the center of Asian banking and commerce. As a center for manufacturing and high technology, Singapore is devoted to developing the minds of its people. In the past, the rigorous educational system has emphasized engineering and the physical sciences over the biological sciences. With the promotion of Life Sciences as one of the "four pillars" of Singapore's manufacturing sector has come a concerted effort to improve life sciences education.

The DNALC will advise the Ministry of Education on the establishment of infrastructure to support the teaching and learning of the life sciences, developing the curriculum and learning resources, administering teacher-training activities both in New York and Singapore, and providing hands-on enrichment for teachers. The Ministry of Education will have rights to use DNALC-developed curricula for 5th through 12th grade students and will be provided with the necessary support to mirror several award-winning websites developed by DNALC, which currently receive more than 400,000 visitors per month.

"I am particularly proud of the accomplishments of the staff of the DNALC in developing new techniques for the education of children in the areas of genetics and molecular biology," Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Director Bruce Stillman, Ph.D., F.R.S., said. "To have the opportunity to expand these outstanding educational tools outside the U.S. to Singapore is an exciting development. The Ministry of Education in Singapore is quite advanced in its thinking about the impact of the biomedical sciences on the economy and society. They recognize that teaching children is a key to future success, and I am pleased that we can work together to help them achieve their goals."

The Dolan DNALC is the world's first science center devoted entirely to public genetics education and the largest provider of hands-on instruction in genetics and molecular biology. Since its founding in 1988, the DNALC has provided laboratory experiences for 150,000 pre-college students. DNALC popularized several useful methods -- including equipment-sharing consortia, mobile vans to carry instructional labs to remote sites, and laboratory field trips -- for delivering laboratory instruction in genetics to large numbers of biology students. Its DNA Science laboratory curriculum has sold 60,000 copies to date and is used in both high schools and colleges. Approximately 4,000 teaching faculty in 40 states and several foreign countries have received training at DNALC-sponsored workshops. Dolan DNALC Director David Micklos is a recognized leader in children's science education and is a recipient of the prestigious Charles A. Dana Award for Pioneering Achievement in Education.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is a private, non-profit basic research institution. Under the leadership of Dr. Bruce Stillman, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the Royal Society (London), some 260 scientists at the Laboratory conduct groundbreaking research in cancer, neurobiology, plant genetics and bioinformatics. For additional information, call (516) 367-8455, or visit the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory website at www.cshl.edu.

This article comes from Science Blog. Copyright 2004

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