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MED’s MobileLab hits the streets

Traveling research laboratory visits Boston Public Schools this week

In an effort to inform local high school students about the world of biotechnology, the School of Medicine’s CityLab MobileLab this week visited the John D. O’Bryant High School in Roxbury.

Created in 1991, CityLab has provided teachers and students in grades 7 to 12 with state-of-the-art equipment, reagents, pedagogy, and staff support to learn authentic, hands-on concepts in biotechnology in the state with the most biotechnology companies in the nation. The program provides students and teachers with hands-on, minds-on laboratory experiences and opportunities to develop concepts and skills in molecular biology. Since CityLab’s inception, more than 70,000 middle and high school students and 2,000 teachers have participated in its programs. CityLab has two dedicated laboratories at MED and a mobile biotechnology laboratory (MobileLab) that brings the laboratory directly to schools.

The 40-foot-long fully equipped laboratory on wheels is specifically designed for middle and high school students and their teachers, and its goal is to increase community access to concepts and techniques associated with biotechnology. Since 1998, it has visited approximately 40 schools a year and reached more than 25,000 students. MobileLab provides the opportunity to participate in hands-on laboratory investigations and apply the same genetics and molecular biology techniques used in biotechnology labs, thereby giving students an equal opportunity to learn concepts and techniques in biotechnology, regardless of the resources available at their school. This first-of-its-kind mobile laboratory has become a leader in mobile laboratory outreach and has been a model for six additional mobile laboratories across the United States.

CityLab curriculum supplements have been adopted for use by museums, schools, and enrichment programs nationwide. Its centralized learning laboratory model has been replicated at institutions throughout the country.