News & Events

TRIO offers classes in partnership with The Jackson Laboratory

In collaboration with The Jackson Laboratory (JAX), the University of Maine at Presque Isle’s (UMPI) TRIO Upward Bound (UB) program has introduced brand new programming for high school freshmen and sophomores who are currently completing summer enrichment programming on the UMPI campus.

TRIO UB rising high school freshmen are participating in a hands-on forensics class while rising sophomores are learning about genetics and DNA. The classes have been carefully designed so the forensics class prepares students for the genetics class they’ll take the following year.

“We are so excited to be able to offer our students this incredible learning experience,” Carol McGlinn, Director of Upward Bound and Educational Talent Search, said. “This is an excellent opportunity for these local kids to connect with high level programming designed by The Jackson Laboratory and we’re so pleased to have an incredible teacher to deliver the materials.”

The instructor and creator for these courses is Penny Kelly, a high school science teacher at the Academy of Aerospace and Engineering in Windsor, Connecticut, who has been trained for the JAX TtGG curriculum. Kelly designed the forensics course to slowly introduce some of the lab skills freshmen will need to prepare for the genetics course next summer. The genetics course is based on Teaching the Genome Generation (TtGG)  curriculum and materials provided by JAX.

In their Forensics class, UB rising freshmen are participating in both detective and lab work. Students have learned about different types of evidence, how it should be obtained and handled, and what happens to that evidence when it gets to a crime lab. They also learned about casting footprints, blood analysis, fingerprinting, and luminol detection at a ‘crime scene.’

Rising sophomores have been introduced to the basic principles of DNA, including its structure at a cellular level. Students learned how to micropipette, extracting DNA from very small samples and obtaining a pellet of DNA; practice essential molecular biology techniques; and utilize lab equipment in an appropriate way, readying students for lab work at their respective high schools in the fall.

Teaching the Genome Generation (TtGG) is a curriculum designed by JAX for high school students to enhance student learning in genetics, genomics, and personalized medicine. Students conduct classroom experiments, collect and analyze real data, and discuss the ethical complexities at the intersection of human genomics, research, and medicine. JAX offers free training to teachers to familiarize them with the curriculum and show them how to introduce modern genetics lessons into their own classrooms. Upon completion of the course, TtGG support is provided to schools and teachers by genomics educators at JAX.

“UMPI’s TRIO Upward Bound program is dedicated to providing local students with impactful experiences in a college setting so we couldn’t be more pleased to add these two new courses to our summer offerings,” McGlinn said. “Both programs have been well received by the students and so very well supported by teams across campus. UMPI’s Biology faculty, the Facilities crew, and Sodexo have been a huge help, and we are incredibly grateful.”

UB students will showcase what they’ve learned during a poster session on Wednesday, June 26 at 10:30 a.m. in UMPI’s Wieden Hall. All are invited to attend this free event.

The TRIO UB program was established at UMPI in 1980. It is a federally funded program that serves 129 first generation and/or income eligible high school students in Aroostook County. UB provides year-round academic support with summer programming designed to enrich students’ knowledge and study skills.