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MSOE SMART Teams to present Poster Session at MCW

MSOE SMART Teams to present Poster Session at MCW

What do you get when you combine enthusiastic teachers and their students, scientists excited about their research, and 3D printing technology? SMART Teams!

SMART (Students Modeling A Research Topic) Teams is a science education outreach program offered through the MSOE Center for BioMolecular Modeling.  The 2011-2012 SMART Teams will host a poster session on Friday, March 9th from 4:00-6:00pm in the MCW Cafeteria Lobby.  On Saturday, March 17th, they will give their oral presentations in two sessions: 9:00-11:30am and 12:00-2:30pm in the MCW Health Research Center Auditorium.

St Joan Antida SMART Team mentor, Nick Silvaggi (UWM), examines his model of the SbADC enzyme. Photo courtesy of Shannon Colton.

The SMART Team program provides middle and high school students and their teachers the opportunity to work closely with research scientists in an exploration of the molecular world, using physical models to make the abstract world of molecular biology tangible to the teachers and students.  There are currently eighteen local SMART Teams in the Milwaukee area.  The SMART Team program is divided into three phases: The Qualification Phase, the Research and Design Phase and the Presentation Phase.  During the Qualification Phase, the Teams meet over several Saturdays in the fall to learn about protein structure and how to design models using molecular visualization software.  In the Research and Design Phase, they work with their mentor to explore a specific protein under investigation in their mentor’s lab and to design a model of that protein using Jmol.  The computer design is converted to a physical model of the protein through the use of 3D printing technology.  In the Presentation Phase, they prepare posters for a scientific audience and oral presentations for a general lay audience to convey the molecular story of their protein.

Mark McNally (researcher at MCW) speaking to the SMART Team from the Milwaukee Academy of Science at the poster session March 2011. Photo courtesy of Paul Roberts, MSOE photographer

The SMART Team Program provides students the opportunity to explore the research world in a hands-on way, enabling them to envision science under a different lens. Many students who participate in the program reaffirm their interest in pursuing a career in the field.  Some students who have participated in the SMART Team program started with little interest in science.  A former SMART Team student recently contacted Program Director, Shannon Colton, to share the impact that the program had on her.  Despite having a parent who is a research scientist, she was not interested in pursuing a career in science and did not understand her father’s enthusiasm for science.  Through her participation in the SMART Team program, she now understands and shares her father’s enthusiasm for science and is currently pursuing a doctorate at MIT.  In addition to fostering a passion for science, the SMART Team program provides students with opportunities to learn skills that transcend the science field, including team work and communication skills.  Former students report back that participation in the SMART Team program prepared them for their college experience in a way that their classes did not.  As one parent stated, “SMART Teams are changing lives”.

Join the SMART Teams on March 9th and March 17th and show your support for our future scientists!

NIH Funding Acknowledgment: Important Reminder – Please acknowledge the NIH when publishing papers, patents, projects, and presentations resulting from the use of CTSI resources by including the NIH Funding Acknowledgement.


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