HHMI Grant Leads to Good Food in the Classroom Posted on October 21st, 2010 by

by Kyia Knutson ’12

Attendees of the 2010 Nobel Conference chat with speaker Cary Fowler. (Photo by John Noltner)

Every year Gustavus Adolphus College hosts more than 5,000 people for the Nobel Conference, approximately 1,500 of whom are high school students. In 2010, the Nobel Conference was more impactful for 620 of these high school students as they and their teachers were part of a new, yearlong outreach program funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).

In 2008, Gustavus received a $1 million HHMI grant. Part of the grant was designated to support the implementation of the science outreach program. Focusing on the topic of each year’s Nobel Conference, this program seeks to help improve the high school science curriculum, increase high school students’ interest in the sciences, and better prepare teachers participating in the program and their students for the Nobel Conference.

Nineteen teachers from 12 schools around the state came together at Gustavus for summer workshops led by Mankato West High School science teacher Eric Koser and St. Peter High School science teacher Bob Shoemaker. Together, they developed lesson plans based on the topics and presenters at Nobel Conference 46: “Making Food Good.” The lesson plans are available to the public at gustavus.edu/nobelconference/2010/teachers/.

On October 5 and 6, the high school students from the participating schools came to Gustavus for the Nobel Conference and its lectures by leading food experts from throughout the world. The curriculum developed this year focused on energy drinks, supertasters, bio-diversity, and using satellites to track agriculture trends over time.

Attendees of the 2010 Nobel Conference listen intently during a lecture. (Photo by John Noltner)

“The nature of this topic [making food good] is one that I believe can easily excite students about science,” says Bob Weisenfeld, Gustavus assistant vice president for corporate and foundation relations and director of the outreach program.

“The really cool thing about the HHMI grant is that the schools that were on the committee came up with lesson plans for this conference and they can be used anytime during the year because of the conference webcast of the presenters,” says Dana Smith, Nicollet High School science teacher. “So you may want to come back to review it later or even introduce the lesson plans at a later time. Putting that piece together allows teachers to do anything they want at the most appropriate time of the academic year.”

Participating schools were Mankato West High School, St. Peter High School, Waconia High School, School of Environmental Studies (Apple Valley), Roosevelt High School (Minneapolis), Brainerd High School, Minnesota New Country School (Henderson), New London-Spicer High School, Nicollet High School, Le Sueur-Henderson High School, Osakis High School, and Hastings Middle School.

Watch the below brief video detailing the HHMI outreach program at Gustavus in conjunction with the College’s Nobel Conference.

For more information on the conference, visit gustavus.edu/events/nobelconference/2010/.


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