Ashley Mcbride/Staff Reporter
Del Mar College recently received a nearly $250,000 grant from EDUCAUSE and the Gates Foundation, $55,000 of which went to the Biology Department for the purchase of 20 iPads to enhance learning capabilities through new technologies.
Forty or so biology students were given the opportunity to participate in a national study hosted by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science Education Alliance. The biology students were asked to gather soil samples from around the city of Corpus Christi to analyze and withdraw bacteriophage – viruses that infect bacteria.
Daisy Zhang, DMC assistant professor of Biotechnology said the importance of this opportunity is that her students get to run this experiment in a real working lab environment.
“They are more motivated because they get to work in a real lab,” Zhang said. “These are real experiments and not just a class project.”
The data collected from this experiment will be stored on the iPads and then sent to be archived at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Currently DMC is the only community college in the state of Texas to be given the opportunity to participate in this experiment with this technology, Zhang said. She said the number one purpose of this experiment is to contribute to science and to the existing database of documented viruses.
The iPads will also be used to view podcasts of new laboratory techniques and Zhang said she hopes that by next semester students will be able to take the iPads with them to increase their knowledge outside of the classroom.
Results of the samples taken from the soil will not be fully evaluated and sent back until next semester but students will then be able to study these results and utilize the findings for future experiments.