News / Science & Technology

Maryland Mobile Lab Brings Science to Students

Bioscience Bus Offers Students Experimental Educationi
December 13, 2013 10:42 PM
Instead of studying pictures in textbooks or working with simulations on computers, high school students across Maryland have a chance to experiment with real scientists, using the latest lab equipment. Faiza Elmasry was there when the traveling Bio Lab visited Patapsco High School and Center for Arts in Baltimore and has this story narrated by Faith Lapidus.
Faiza Elmasry
Instead of looking at pictures in textbooks or working with simulations on computers, high school students across Maryland have a chance to experiment with professional scientists while using the latest lab equipment.

The teens conduct these experiments, not in their classroom, but in a bus outfitted as a mobile laboratory,

The traveling Bio Lab recently visited Patapsco High School and Center for Arts in Baltimore, which delighted of their teacher.

“Today, the chemistry students were able to do an acid based hydration, which means they neutralize an acid with a base," Leah Warble said. "Normally they would do it through simulations on the computer. The BioLab is allowing them to do it in real life, actual time and actually apply it to something we use in real life, which is biodiesel.”

Instructor Angel Mangus, who is in charge of the 13-meter Maryland BioLab, says the converted bus has the equipment students need to explore a wide variety of sciences.

“We have anything from biology to forensic science," Mangus said. "So we have a blood lab where they go ahead and test if any of the evidence samples has blood on it.  We also have DNA analysis lab where they are trying to test and see who did a specific crime. And we also have chemistry.”

The mobile lab has been bringing this sort of bioscience education to schools around Maryland for more than a decade.

“It is really nice to get them in here with hands-on activities," Mangus said. "They get really excited and want to be engaged.”

The program is supported by the MarylandBio Foundation.

“The equipment that students use on the mobile lab, they do not have in schools," said Brian Gaines, chief executive officer of the non-profit group. "Our instructors are actually scientists, they work alongside the teachers. They are bringing science experience from the laboratory into the schools and teach the students how to use the newest techniques that we have in science.”  
That makes a difference to 15-year-old Seda Sinan, who is interested in biology.

“It gave me more materials to work with than what I have at school," she said. "It is like more interactive.  

Her classmate Shenara Jefferson agrees.

“It really showed me how just a little bit of difference can really impact your product when you are doing something in there," Jefferson said. "Like I only added just a little bit of the solution and it completely affected my entire thing.”

Warble, the Patapsco High School teacher, says kids usually don't know what they are interested in until they are exposed to it.

The BioLab is an innovative way to do that.

“The excitement of feeling like a real scientist, even just a change in what they are wearing, wearing goggles and blue gloves versus white gloves made them feel more like television scientists, if you will," Warble said. "Being allowed to handle this kind of situation makes them more responsible for the work because they are now intrigued in doing it and they feel respected and responsible since we gave them those opportunities.”

The Lab’s mission is to help create the next generation of scientists.

“We use this program to talk about careers in science, not only science, but science, technology, engineering and math,” Gaines said.

In the process, instructors like Angel Mangus become role models as well.

“At the end of each class, if we have enough time, we like to take five, 10 minutes and talk about us, ourselves," she said. "We tell them how we got into science, maybe where we went to school, what we did, the different kinds of things we could do.”

She adds that, after they finish their experiments, many students leave the BioBus excited about the possibility of becoming scientists.

You May Like

Guatemala Mudslide Death Toll Rises to 86

Death toll is expected to continue to rise as emergency crews dig through tons of earth for an estimated 350 people still missing More

Debris Found in Search for Missing Ship

Objects located Sunday have not yet been confirmed to be from the 240 meter container ship, El Faro, which disappeared in the eye of Hurricane Joaquin, according to US Coast Guard More

Survivor: Gunman Spared 'Lucky One' to Give Police Message

Law enforcement official says a manifesto of several pages was recovered; contents not revealed More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs