We aim to increase students'understanding and interest in science through independent, student-driven research projects that use DNA barcoding to study the unique biogeographical regions of Long Island, New York. Barcode Long Island (BLI) will enable teachers and students to gain an understanding of the interaction of natural environments and human wellbeing, while increasing their knowledge, confidence, and interest in science. The BLI will build on strong collaborations between the DNA Learning Center (DNALC) at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), Stony Brook University (SBU), Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), and Dowling College, and an established network of Long Island schools. BLI will develop and provide all the training, equipment, materials, and infrastructure needed to support this large-scale, student-driven research effort. In the first year, we will focus on planning and building th partnership between participating institutions and Long Island school systems, and developing project infrastructure. Over the course of the program, 600 student teams comprising 1800 students will be led by 240 teachers trained at workshops held at BNL, SBU, and two DNALC locations (Lake Success and Cold Spring Harbor) that span Long Island outside the boroughs of New York City. Workshops will introduce teachers to DNA barcoding, experimental design, laboratory and bioinformatics methods, lab kit components, and detail how teachers and students can participate in BLI projects and campaigns. With DNALC, SBU, AMNH, and BNL staff, plus a network of scientists from local institutions as support, students will be guided while they design experiments, analyze results, and present their research at annual symposia. A multi-faceted evaluation program will assess: impact of the training on faculty participants'knowledge, behavior and teaching confidence;how faculty implement the project in a variety of student research settings;and effects on student learning, interests, and attitudes. Longitudinal surveys of participants will be supplemented with structured teacher and student interviews, focus groups, and project case studies. Internet project resource use and database submissions will also be monitored to track project outcomes. The structure of this program - with planning, implementation, and evaluation components - is designed to determine the feasibility and impact of large-scale studies of biodiversity through student research.
The project mission is to enable teachers and students to gain an intuitive understanding of the crucial interdependence between humans and the natural environment, while increasing their knowledge and interest in science through independent research projects. Through their studies, students will add to our knowledge of the interaction of natural environments and human wellbeing.