The National Science Foundation’s GK–12 program provides a unique opportunity for STEM collaboration between the K–12 classroom and university research. This partnership benefits students through experiential learning, exposure to research, exceptional mentorship, and preparation for postsecondary education. Additionally, researchers gain valuable skills by explaining difficult scientific concepts to high school students and broadening their exposure to secondary education. We present graduate-research-based activities focused on understanding the genetic causes of Down syndrome. Modification of these activities could accommodate educational levels from middle school to entry-level college biology. This lesson involves several biological and data-collecting techniques. These experiential activities help students understand genetics and Down syndrome, and introduce basic scientific methodology and techniques useful for postsecondary education.
We developed an interactive laboratory that allows students to identify and grade tissue samples from human breast biopsies, using techniques similar to those used by actual pathologists. This unique lab develops a practical and intellectual understanding of basic tissue structures that make up living systems, utilizing technology to bring together pathology, cancer biology, genetics, and bioethics in a relevant and engaging way that leaves a lasting impression on students. The activities described are appropriate for students at all levels of high school and college, especially those with an interest in health care careers.