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AceraEI offers free workshops for public school science teachers

By March 26, 2021May 19th, 2021No Comments

Seeking high school science teachers who want to

reinvent biology class!

Reboot your lab activities and earn PDPs this summer at a free training workshop covering gene editing, microbiomics & climate change

Join the AceraEI Life Sciences Change Agent Teachers (LSCAT) team and Medford High School for a FREE five-day professional development workshop series based on NGSS-aligned curricula.

Participating teachers and department leaders will learn about new and relevant technologies, how scientists conduct lab research and work iteratively, and how to translate these innovations into labs and lessons plans that offer inspiration and a sense of purpose to students.

Sessions will include hands-on lab experiences and access to pilot-tested curricula in gene editing (using CRISPR technology), microbiomics, photosynthesis, and climate change. These areas are among the leading trends in biotechnology, allowing teachers and students to connect their classroom lab activities to contemporary research happening in the world.

Dates and location

When: August 16-20, 2021 | 8:30am – 3:00pm
Where: Medford High School, 489 Winthrop Street, Medford
Please note: All LSCAT participants will be required to wear face masks and practice social distancing during the workshops.
Register online

At this time, the August LSCAT series is reserved for science teachers and department leaders in Massachusetts school districts.  To inquire about other LSCAT opportunities, please contact


Michael Hirsch, AceraEI Lab Sciences Specialist and Curriculum Collaborator Hirsch is a former biotech scientist and public school science teacher. In 2020, he was named an Educator Fellow for NPR’s Science Friday.

He began his work life as a scientist in the Kendall Square biotech space, researching and creating therapeutics for metabolic disease and inflammation. During that time, he helped placed over 20 drugs into clinical trials and published several papers in the field of diabetes.

Despite his success, Michael was feeling unfulfilled and realized that his favorite part of being a scientist was teaching others his research and sharing his passion of science. After receiving his masters degree and Massachusetts teaching certifications, Michael taught Biology and Chemistry in public high schools for three years, where his zeal and excitement towards his content made him a favorite among students. His belief is that everyone can be a scientist and his goal in the classroom was simple: experiment and solve scientific problems. Michael was attracted to Acera’s vision of curiosity, inquiry based conceptual learning, and an opportunity to work with like-minded creative teachers. He loves the collaborative nature of the school, its ever-changing curriculum, and ability to provide a cutting edge, cool, safe, and unique place for many different types of student to learn and practice their skills.

Alexis Daniels, AceraEI Strategic Initiatives Manager Daniels is a Doctoral student and member of Johns Hopkins University’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Specialization 2020 cohort.

Trained as an occupational therapist, she loved the merging of art, science, technology, and getting to help people. However, as she moved through environments – schools, hospitals, rehab centers – she realized she was more interested in how young minds developed, how students developed a sense of civic identity, and the magic that happens in a classroom. She began her teaching career in out-of-school environments, linking East Boston youth to food justice advocates in the neighborhood. She ran bilingual cooking and science programs, managed three school gardens, and ultimately co-founded an urban farm integrating youths’ visions to design a more equitable, resilient food landscape. Her skills in community organizing, teaching through high-engagement hands-on experiences, and managing novel programs fit well with Acera’s need for an Enrichment Programs Manager. For two years, she managed STEAM summer and after school programs, coaching specialist teachers and witnessing students’ creativity, problem-solving, and sense of purpose blossom.

Now focused on Acera Education Innovation, she sees the challenges translating what’s been proven possible at Acera’s lab school to other settings. Her desire to learn about strategic systems change, best practices in professional development, and develop a “wide angle lens” on innovation in education led her to Johns Hopkins University.


Gene Editing with CRISPR: Gene editing has the power to rewrite the experiences of organisms by altering their DNA. This unit will allow students to learn theory in exciting and current ways by utilizing CRISPR to change prokaryotic genes and phenotypes. The hands-on lab and associated discussions are divided into four parts with pre-lab information, readings, and learning goals. Each part has a “check your understanding” table for students to track progress and identify areas to supplement learning. Novel uses of lab reports as assessment tools are introduced. This unit uses gene editing kits and a comprehensive curriculum guide developed at Acera.
Watch scenes from an earlier LSCAT gene editing workshop:

The Human Microbiome: A relatively recent area of study, the microbiome has quickly emerged as having important ties to physiological targets such as food preferences, allergies, IBD, and autism. This unit will introduce teachers to a new approach to help students learn about evolution/natural selection and body systems – cardiovascular, pulmonary, digestive, immune, nervous, and integumentary – and position them to study ecology and the ways environmental cues affect human physiology. Along the way students will collect and analyze their own relevant health information.
Watch Acera students conduct this experiment:

The Secret Life of Plants: Plants and other photosynthetic organisms have a unique role in our world, with the ability to turn carbon dioxide into biologically important products. In this set of labs, learn the biochemistry of this process by determining the right wavelengths of light and the effect carbon dioxide has on photosynthesis. Research how technologies use plants and photosynthesis as allies in combating anthropogenic climate change, and devise your own plant-based solutions to mitigate the effects of human activity on our world.
We don’t have a video on this unit yet…but here’s “Biomes and Butterflies”!



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