November 2016 News

Indiana Academy Instructors Awarded Robert P. Bell Education Grants

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Robert P. Bell Education Grants are awarded to teachers and counselors for innovative ideas, programs, or classroom projects. Administered by the Community Foundation of Muncie and Delaware County, four Indiana Academy faculty members, Michael Mayfield, John Marsh, Jennifer Robinson, and Les McSparrin were awarded a Bell Grant.

Students in the Human Anatomy and Physiology course taught by Michael Mayfield, instructor of life sciences, are studying the human cardiovascular system. As part of this study they will be dissecting a preserved sheep heart and illustrating the external circulation and internal structures. They will use computerized probeware to produce a three lead ECG (electrocardiogram) of their own heart. To help in mastering the material, they will transfer their drawings onto the front of a t-shirt along with a tracing of their ECG on the back. From this activity, Mayfield hopes the students will better understand the physical structures of the human heart and the flow of blood.

John Marsh, instructor of history, is another recipient of the Bell Grant. Marsh created a mock election process that expanded beyond the standard classroom teaching on the nomination process, electoral college, candidates, and issues. Students trained in the roles of the various poll workers, and then the polls were open during the nearly identical period as the official polls in Indiana on Election Day. Students followed the complete procedure when they came to vote. Through hands-on participation and responsibilities, the end result for students was a broad understanding of the election laws and procedures regarding this most central of citizenship rights.

French Instructor, Jennifer Robinson, instructor of French, had a variety of things happening during National French Week (November 4-10) and the grant assisted with and Arts & Crafts event during that week. For that event students focused on the hand-painted pottery traditions in the Brittany region of France. Their pottery pieces were decorated using permanent markers, and they created personalized signatures following the example of the true Quimper artisans. Finally, to extend the reach of this project beyond the walls of the Academy, each student made one pottery item for themselves and a second to offer to someone in the community. Each item includes a student-produced card explaining the Quimper tradition, an explanation of the significance of the chosen design, a brief biography of the student artisan, and some facts about the French language.

Students in biochemistry are embarking on a 5-7 week course with Les McSparrin, instructor of chemistry, to explore a real-world laboratory project that is problem based. The students will be isolating the DHFR protein from transformed E. coli colonies. What makes this a “real-world” project is that the students will be using the same procedures and apparatuses that are currently in use in biotechnology labs across the United States. Student won’t just be learning about the function of the protein itself, but they also will be learning techniques that will carry over to college and/or the workplace. Since the field of biochemistry and biotechnology is growing at such a rapid pace, students will have a considerable advantage over other students who don’t have this skill set upon graduation. He wishes to enhance in-class discussions of DHFR and other protein folding with hands-on experiences.