NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

June 10, 2008

MobileLab gives AHS students hands-on experience

AMESBURY — It looked like a typical Friday at Amesbury High School; a line of groggy students stood in the drizzling rain, slowly getting onto a bus, itching for the weekend.

But this bus wasn't yellow, nor was it transporting the students anywhere.

Rather, it was the Boston University MobileLab, a 40-foot mobile biomedical lab built in a BlueBird "concept 2000" bus. The MobileLab travels across the state to more than 40 schools, educating and enriching students grades nine to 12 in the field of biology and biomedicine with hands-on labs.

"It's like the Magic School Bus," said Matt Micari, a Boston University student and one of two science education specialists who travels with the MobileLab.

The MobileLab, which came to AHS Wednesday, was funded by a $10,000 grant supplied by various biomedical companies as well as Boston University.

Wayne Adams, the science department chairman at AHS, said the lab is part of a seven-year relationship with MassBioEd, to which Adams must submit written reports regarding the progress and education of the science department and MobileLab.

The grant also provided equipment for the classroom similar to that on the MobileLab, including an incubator.

"This opens new science techniques to the students," Adams said.

It also opens a door of opportunities to the students, as nearly 80 percent of white-collar jobs in Boston are related to the field of biotechnology, he said.

"There are plenty of jobs out there," Adams said.

In order for the MobileLab to come to a school, up to four teachers must attend four days of training regarding the lab and biotechnology. Although Adams was the only one from AHS to attend the training, he's pushing for more teachers to become involved next year.

The trained teachers at each school are an integral part of the three-day MobileLab visit, as they prepare and educate the students around the technology and subject of biomedicine before and after the MobileLab experience.

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