"I've been teaching biology for 10 years. It is one thing to teach information from a book, but it's an entirely different experience to do the research yourself and really delve into the background necessary to work at this level. I feel that the best way to learn is to do and to teach others how to do it themselves."

Photo of Henry Donahue and Jason Ambler

Henry Donahue and Jason Ambler

So says Jason Ambler, a biology teacher at Pennsylvania's Hershey High School and a biomedical researcher this summer at the Hershey Medical Center. He is at the Center courtesy of a new Administrative Supplement for Students and Science Educatorsfunded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and administered by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS).

Jason has been taking advantage of the opportunity to work on the bone-growing potential of human adult stem cells cultured on biomaterials with Henry Donahue, Ph.D., vice chair for research and director of the Division of Musculoskeletal Sciences in the Department of Orthopaedics at Penn State College of Medicine. Dr. Donahue is glad to have Jason on board. "Adding Jason to our team allowed us to expand the scope of our project's original aims to include an additional possible factor in stem cell responsiveness," he says. "Without this supplemental support, we would not have been able to pursue this line of exploration."

In the short time Jason has been working in the lab, he has grown both personally and professionally, and is excited about returning to the classroom this fall. "I've been able to obtain a great deal of new information that I can take back and share with my students," he says. "My classroom is project-based through guided inquiry, and at the center of the learning are real experiences involving student-directed investigations that I help to facilitate by providing the necessary direction to help them answer the questions that they posed."

"Here in the lab I've learned a great many new techniques, from primary cell culture to testing for cell differentiation of co-cultured cells isolated from transgenic mice," Jason continues. "I'll be able to take these back to the classroom and share them with my students through laboratory exercises that simulate the procedures that I am learning this summer. Although we do not have the facilities to perform the type of research that I'm working on this summer, the techniques and procedures can be modified for my classroom."

With the help of ARRA and NIAMS, there's a symbiotic confluence of successes at work for biomedical researchers, a biology teacher and the students he will instruct and influence. In Hershey, Pennsylvania, life is sweet.

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To learn more about ARRA Administrative Supplements for Students and Science Educators, go to https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-09-060.html.

The activity above is being funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). More information about the National Institutes of Health's ARRA grant funding opportunities can be found at https://grants.nih.gov/recovery/. To track the progress of HHS activities funded through the ARRA, visit www.hhs.gov/recovery. To track all federal funds provided through the ARRA, visit www.recovery.gov.

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