Professional Development Workshop (March 31–April 2 and April 7–9, 2017)

As part of our ongoing effort to train high school teachers to bring "discovery science" into their classrooms, this teacher education program will be performed jointly with Bridgewater State University (BSU) and include pre-service and practicing teachers in a workshop over two weekends to improve their comfort levels with "discovery science".

Our teachers this year include Jennifer Mendell (Bridgewater), Bill Reznikoff (MBL), Larry Dapsis (Barnstable County Extension Service), David Form (Nashoba Regional High School), Aaron Mathieu (Acton-Boxborough Regional High School), Chris Brothers (Falmouth High School), and Joyce Forand-Voorhis (Brockton High School).

Basic topics and lesson plans cover Field Work, Insect Biodiversity, Endosymbiotic Bacteria (Wolbachia), DNA extraction, Polymerase Chain Reaction, Gel Electrophoresis, DNA Sequencing, Bioinformatics, and Phylogenetics. The Wolbachia Project meets many of the National Science Education Standards.

In-service teachers who successfully complete all requirements of the workshop will be awarded 30 MA DOE Professional Development Points.

Additionally, this workshop may be taken for graduate credit. Grant funding is available to partially offset the cost of tuition and fees. Please contact Dr. Jenna Mendell (email: at Bridgewater State University for more information and instructions on how to register.

Call for Applications to Discover the Microbes Within!

The Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) and Bridgewater State University, with support from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, are offering a professional development workshop in science education as part of The Wolbachia Project for pre-service and practicing high school teachers.

Join scientific experts in the study of symbiosis; the infection of insects by the Wolbachia bacterium. The project is constructed to serve as a vehicle for introducing high school teachers and their students to a wide range of issues in the biological sciences such as: 1. The concepts and approaches used by scientists to address real world questions. 2. How different fields of biology ranging from ecosystem studies and taxonomy to cell and molecular biology and bioinformatics can all contribute to a meaningful scientific investigation.

The objectives are to provide discovery-based, contemporary science content and to supply year round technical assistance and intellectual support for participants through teacher-scientist partnerships, site-based partnerships between MBL, BSU and local schools.

What is Wolbachia?

Wolbachia is a genus of bacteria that infect arthropods. The symptoms of infection vary between host species, but include a skewing of the sex ratio of offspring from infected organisms toward females. Although the extent of the infection of arthropods by Wolbachia is unknown, it has been found infecting a wide variety of organisms and in a wide range of geographic areas.

During the workshop, held on Bridgewater State University's campus (BSU), participants will identify arthropod samples or bring samples from their local insect fauna. We will use molecular methods (PCR) to detect Wolbachia infections in the collected specimens. We will review sequencing procedures and conduct bioinformatics analyses. Using Wolbachia 16S rDNA sequences, we will construct a phylogenic tree of the bacteria. Sequencing of positive insect DNAs will be completed at the MBL and made available to participants after the workshop.

You will develop the labs in your classroom to become part of a national network of high school students contributing to a single research effort.

What will happen during the "Discover the Microbes Within" Program?

Half of our annual workshop attendees will be students from nearby institutions with teaching training programs. BSU College of Education and Allied Studies and the BSU Biology Department will select these participants from its pool of enrolled students interested in teaching high school science. The remaining attendees will be practicing teachers seeking to improve their comfort levels in teaching "discovery science". They will partner with the pre-service teachers in a mentoring role.

The goal of the project is to establish partnerships between scientists and teachers in ways that stimulate student creativity, analytical thinking, and performance in real-world research. The project calls on resident scientists from the Woods Hole community, Bridgewater State University, and visiting scientists to present background information and current research developments on topics related to symbiotic microbes in insects.

Teachers will engage in hands-on activities to study the diverse ways that bacteria evolve and symbiotically interact with other forms of life in an environment that promises close interactions with leading research scientists and other teachers.

The workshop paradigm is that students naturally want to learn science as it is practiced. This process will enhance their skills in inquiry, increase understanding of what a scientist does, and contribute to new scientific discoveries.

Topics will cover Insect Collection, Insect Biodiversity, the Symbiotic Bacteria that live within insects, DNA extraction, Polymerase Chain Reaction, Gel Electrophoresis, and Bioinformatics.


All education materials will be covered. In-service teachers taking the course for graduate-credit will receive a $600 discount on tuition and fees.

For more information, contact program coordinator Hege Lizarralde (Email: