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Augmenting Secondary Education with Advanced Microscopy

Craig Queenan,* Alyssa Calabro, and David Becker Nano-Structural Imaging Lab, Bergen County Academies, Hackensack, NJ 07601


Bergen County Academies In his 2011 State of the Union address, President Barack

Obama echoed the sentiments of this nation’s leaders for the past twenty years when he stated, “Nations like China and India realized . . . they could compete in this new world. So they started educating their children earlier and longer, with greater emphasis on math and science. Tey’re investing in research and new technologies. . . . Maintaining our leadership in research and technology is crucial to America’s success. But if we want to win the future—if we want innovation to produce jobs in America and not overseas—then we also have to win the race to educate our kids.” Te Bergen County Academies (BCA) in Hackensack, NJ, is attempting to do just that: invest in research and technology at the high school level in order to expose students to real world opportunities and applications they will experience in the future. BCA is a public magnet high school with an enrollment

of approximately 1,100 students, featuring career-focused academies operating as a cohesive unit to provide a dynamic, specialized, student-centered environment. Transitioning in 1992 from traditional vocational education, BCA began with the Academy for the Advancement of Science and Technology. Students of this academy received an education heavily focused on the sciences and research. Te success of the program led to six additional academies in the years that followed: Business and Finance, Culinary Arts and Hotel Administration, Engi- neering and Design Technology, Medical Science Technology, Telecommunications and Computer Science, and Visual and Performing Arts. Each of these academies provides students with a focused curriculum in its specialty area while also allowing students to explore and become involved in any and all programs offered at the school. Over the past decade, highly motivated, dedicated, and

visionary school administrators and faculty have believed in offering students a one-of-a-kind education expanding beyond the classroom and textbooks. Tis led to the development of the school’s research programs in the areas of biotechnology, chemistry, nanotechnology, and stem cell research. To this end, a number of powerful technologies were acquired, including a flow cytometer, capillary gel electrophoresis DNA sequencer, RT-PCR, HPLC, GC-MS, probe station, FT-IR spectrometer, and cell culture facilities. BCA is also home to an electron microscopy suite known as the Nano-Structural Imaging Lab (NSIL), equipped with an SEM, TEM, and Laser Scanning Confocal Microscope (LSCM).

48 Te mission of both the research programs and the

NSIL is to expose students to scientific inquiry, research, and instrumentation and to provide transferable, firsthand experiences with the techniques, practices, and perspectives of professional scientists. By expanding the capabilities and context of secondary science education, it is expected that students will be better equipped for, and more likely to pursue leadership positions in, science, scientific research, and global- scale problem solving.

Development of the NSIL Traditional

light and fluorescent microscopy are core

imaging technologies that were available to students from the inception of the research programs. When conceiving the NSIL, the district sought to expand imagining capabilities to the nano-scale. An advisory team was formed with researchers and facility managers from area research institutions and companies, including the City College of New York, Hunter College, and Polymath Interscience, LLC. A collaborative facility was envisioned that would afford science and engineering students the ability to synthesize, visualize, and characterize nano-scale structures, devices, and interactions. Te district sought and received funding from the Carl

D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Grant to support the initial facility development, including the acquisition of an FEI Quanta 200 3D dual-beam FIB/SEM with low-vacuum imaging capabilities, as well as the associated sample preparation equipment and supplies. Te system is supplemented with a peltier stage, an Oxford INCA EDX, and a platinum deposition system. Over the following year, the lab expanded its capabilities to include a TEM and an LSCM with support from the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders. A JEOL 2100 with cryo capabilities and a Leica TCS SP5 (Figure 1) were added to the facility, along with systems for ultramicrotomy, carbon and metal evaporation, and cryo-plunge freezing. In addition to imaging, these light and electron micro-

scopes provide students the ability to create three-dimensional reconstructions. DualBeamTM Slice and View sections from the SEM and image stacks from the LSCM are reconstructed using Amira® soſtware. Tomograms can be created using the TEM, with eTomo used for initial reconstruction, and can be further animated using Amira®. Tese 3-D techniques help students better understand and analyze the structure and function of their samples, such as nanoparticles or signaling pathways within a tissue sample.

doi:10.1017/S155192951100037X • 2011 May

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