Congratulations to Cary Burke, the first finalist of the 2009 Excellence in STEM Teaching Award! Mrs. Burke is a High School Living Environment and Forensics teacher from Canandaigua Academy who uses creativity, humor, and singing to bring subject matter alive to students.
The STEM Award honors an activity Cary developed, called the Proteinia Game, which puts students in the role of a DNA cell during the process of a genetic mutation.
The game is structured as a traveling experience, in which the cell visits different countries: “DNAdia”, “RNAdia”, and “Proteinia”. Everything is going well until the DNA cell encounters “a mean ol’ acid” who changes the cells’ travel plans. The simulation includes: insertion, deletion, and substitution mutations which are beneficial, harmful, or neutral. Students carry a passport for each mutation which helps them compare the DNA strands.
Mrs. Burke has witnessed many “ah ha” moments during this activity as her students experience a genetic mutation. What has really stood out to her is that her students remember the experience far into the future, as she uses it as a reference point for future learning.
Once again we would like to congratulate Cary Burke for winning the first round of the Excellence in STEM Teaching Award, and also recognize the exemplary work she does bringing science to students in a unique and memorable way!