OEIT Star Team Presents Software Tools To Biology Faculty, High School Teachers and Students

By Rocklyn Clarke, STAR Team Discovery and Outreach Developer, OEIT

The Software Tools for Academics and Researchers (STAR) team of the Office of Educational Innovation and Technology (OEIT) recently introduced three new audiences to their web-based software tools StarBiochem and StarGenetics. StarBiochem allows users to visualize and manipulate molecules from the Protein Data Bank. StarGenetics simulates mating experiments between organisms that are genetically different across a range of traits and allows students to analyze the nature of the traits in question.

On April 6, the Star Team conducted an all day workshop for over 20 Undergraduate Biology Faculty from selected regional colleges and universities. The attendees gathered on campus in 68-101 to hear presentations on StarBiochem and StarGenetics, after which they had an opportunity to explore these tools through guided exercises and hands-on applications. The attendees also heard from two faculty members who helped to inspire the development of these tools: Professor Graham Walker of the Biology Department and Professor Chris Kaiser, Head of the Biology Department.

On April 13, Dr. Lourdes Alemán of the STAR Team presented StarBiochem at “Proteins Up Close and Wonderful” - a workshop for high school teachers sponsored by BioConnectNH at Great Bay Community College in New Hampshire. The STAR Team presentation was made at the invitation of Dr. Kathy Vandiver who presented her LEGO Amino Acid Sets. Dr. Vandiver is the Director of the Community Outreach Core of the MIT Center for Environmental Health Sciences (CEHS). She is also the developer of the “Learning Lab: The Cell” exhibit at the MIT Museum.

Finally, on April 22, once again at the invitation of Dr. Vandiver, the Star Team’s StarBiochem tool was presented to 24 gifted high school students at “Deconstructing Evolution - Clues From Protein Structure” - a program sponsored by the Whitehead Institute (http://wi.mit.edu/programs/student/index.html). You can find more information about StarBiochem and other STAR Team software at the STAR web site: http://web.mit.edu/star/. To find more information about the LEGO protein synthesis simulation at the Learning Lab web site http://web.mit.edu/museum/exhibitions/learninglab.html.