Hack the Helix

BwoB founders Megan Wallner and Ellen Jorgensen started Hack the Helix in 2017 as a pilot program to support NYC STEM teachers who wanted to include molecular biology in their curricula. Our facility is a great place to try out new labs before doing them with your class. Plus you can use us as a staging area, preparing things like agar plates, solutions and sterile consumables. When you feel confident, you can even bring your class to the lab to deliver the lesson.

Partnering with Math for America, we offered MfA teachers training sessions that provide science teachers professional development by teaching the basics of biotechnology. We share how cutting edge DNA technology, like PCR and gene editing can be translated in the high school classroom or laboratory.

Hack the helix teachers pose for a group photo in the lab

What past Hack the Helix teachers are saying:

New ideas
Coming for new ideas was really helpful. The GMO lab gave me a whole new idea of what can be done with my students.
Troubleshooting support
Hack the Helix supported me by troubleshooting and hearing what people do in their classrooms.
Excellent motivation
This year I did a PTC lab, mtDNA lab, and gel electrophoresis forensics with PCR in my school. Hack the Helix has been a great support to try out labs hands-on before bringing ideas into the classroom. Being here pushed me to keep trying these ideas.
Exploring options
I come for inspiration from other teachers and hearing about what people are doing [in their classrooms], plus the types of labs that can be done. I am in a bubble at my school. At Hack the Helix I get ideas of DIY lab resources.

Can we support you?

We have partnered with biotech supply companies, nonprofit organizations and science professionals to get donations of free supplies for NYC public school teachers. Enzymes, plasmids, DNA extraction kits and loaner equipment are available. We buy supplies in bulk, make many of our own solutions and reagents, and can help you hack your classroom to get what you need to teach great molecular science.

In conjunction with Math for America, Biotech without Borders became a PLT (Professional Learning Team) experience in the fall of 2018 around molecular biology skills. Public high school science teachers met monthly to share best practices and get on-demand access to equipment, training and mentoring. We are continuing this program as long as there in continued interest.

Even if you are not an MfA Master Teacher, you can still participate in Hack the Helix. Briefly tell us about your teaching practice and how Biotech Without Borders can help support you.

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