Each year, the Science Teacher’s Association of Ontario hosts an interactive and educational three day STEM conference in Toronto for elementary and secondary teachers from across Ontario. This year, the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario’s (BIO) Education & Outreach Team will be in attendance and will be presenting two workshops regarding the School Malaise Trap Program (Friday, Nov. 14th, 3:45-4:45pm – Session #2510) and DNA Barcoding applications for the classroom (Thursday, Nov. 13th, 8:30 – 9:30am – Session #1013). We are extremely excited to be able to participate and contribute to such a passionate community of STEM educators!
This year’s STAO conference theme is “inspiring innovation” and was chosen in order to “help science educators in Ontario better understand the significance of STEM education and how it can prepare students for a rapidly changing global world.” We could not have said it better ourselves, as we too have a deep connection to these values!
DNA Barcoding, a genetic technique used to identify species, is a relatively new addition to the Ontario curriculum. Its applications are far reaching, and astounding initiatives have been created through utilizing this technology – most notably, the International Barcode of Life project (iBOL). This project is the largest biodiversity genomics initiative ever undertaken and aims to create a barcode reference library (BOLD) of all the species found on earth.
Feeling inspired and innovative yet? We thought so! The best part about the International Barcode of Life project is that anyone can contribute to it, as well as access the data (found online at BOLD). Classroom projects and programs ranging from DIY lab studies, participating in the School Malaise Trap Program, and submitting a LifeScanner kit for analysis are some of the many ways that students can contribute valuable data to iBOL!
Through these innovative citizen science initiatives, BIO hopes to inspire students to contribute to, and prepare for, a bioliterate future. Although we live in a fast-paced and rapidly changing world, DNA barcoding is a key piece of technology that will help us to slow down and truly assess, protect, and monitor all levels of biodiversity found around us.