Educator Spotlight: Paola Travascio

Ilyana Sawka/ January 20, 2020

This month, we heard from Dr. Paola Travascio, a high school educator at Pitagora High School in Pozzuoli, Italy. She and her students have been using LabXchange to complement their use of the Amgen Biotech Experience curriculum! If you would like to share a testimonial of using LabXchange, please fill out this form.

Students in the computer lab at Pitagora High School in Pozzuoli, Italy, examine the LabXchange Micropipetting Simulation.

Our school, Pitagora High School, is located in a small town on the sea called Pozzuoli, near Naples, Italy. The area is rich in history and monuments from ancient Roman times, but also faces some real challenges, especially for young people. So innovative science education programs represent a great opportunity for our students not only to explore scientific discovery, but also to grow their interests and inspire them to pursue potential careers in science.

We just became an ABE school, that is, a school that uses the Amgen Biotech Experience (ABE) curriculum. (We are grateful to ABE Italy for this great opportunity and all of the support that they offer!) To complement our use of the ABE curriculum, I decided to use the LabXchange cluster on Foundational Concepts and Techniques in Biotechnology to support and deepen my students’ understanding of both the theory and the technical issues behind the ABE Labs.

Initially, my plan was to use LabXchange’s virtual simulations to replicate the ABE labs that are not offered in Italy, Lab 5 (Bacterial Transformation) and Lab 6 (Protein Expression and Purification). However, after exploring LabXchange and its wonderful assets with my colleagues Bianca Maria Artiaco and Giuseppina De Luca, we realized we could use it as a blend, a sort of integration between the real and virtual worlds of biotechnology.

Students at Pitagora High School work through the Restriction Enzyme Digest Simulation on LabXchange.

What I liked most about LabXchange was the opportunity to integrate lab practice and virtual simulations, as well as the flexibility of creating personal learning pathways. My students and I benefited from LabXchange in two ways:

1. We used it as a pre-laboratory reflection tool, namely in preparation for more conscious performance in the lab. (I call this “from Simulation as Virtual Action to Laboratory as Reflected Action.”)
2. We used it as a post-laboratory reflection tool, namely as a virtual reflection after the sometimes hectic activity in the lab. (I call this “from Laboratory as Real Action to Simulation as Virtual Reflection.”)

Students appreciated both approaches, and found that LabXchange helped them deepen their understanding of their work in the laboratory and the theory behind it.

LabXchange represents a great opportunity for both educators and learners to improve their teaching and learning activities. To anyone who is considering using the platform, I would say, “Go with it!”

22 teachers and students from Pitagora High School in Pozzuoli, Italy, pose for a group photograph in the hallway of their school.

Paola Travascio and her students at Pitagora High School in Pozzuoli, Italy.

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