Science and research are essential to Qatar’s transformation from a carbon-based to a knowledge-based economy. That’s why two Education City universities are working to develop experimental and analytical skills that will help students succeed in their science-based programs.
Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar and Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar have teamed to establish a network of life science educators (LiScEN). The network of primary and secondary school teachers will work in line with Qatar National Vision 2030 toward developing an infrastructure for cutting edge research in the life sciences for Qatar and the region.
Since its inception this past spring, more than 50 science instructors from around the region have joined the network, learning new ways to incorporate into their curricula information about scientific discoveries and experimental design.
“In order to train a successful pool of Arab scientists, we need to start on the grassroots level and have our secondary school students begin to think deeply about the material at hand – they must ask, what is scientific inquiry?” said Kenneth Hovis, assistant teaching professor of biology at Carnegie Mellon.
At its core scientific inquiry’s goal is to obtain knowledge in the form of testable explanations that can predict the results of future experiments. More broadly, it is one thing to know that; it is quite a different matter to know why. Knowledge of the former type is descriptive; knowledge of the latter type is explanatory.
“As university academics, it is our responsibility to support life sciences educators in primary and secondary schools as they promote scientific inquiry amongst the region’s youth – LiScEN gives us this means,” Hovis added.
Earlier this year the two universities announced new collaborative undergraduate degrees in the biological sciences and computational biology. The two programs’ core curriculum includes biology, physics, biochemistry, math; and both organic and experimental organic chemistry, in which students undertake a rigorous, quantitative course of study.
Understanding the importance of reaching out to secondary school students as well as educators, Carnegie Mellon will continue the Student Biotechnology Explorer Program, where students analyze simulated disease outbreaks through interactive laboratory exercises.
Carnegie Mellon and Weill Cornell are partners in the QNV2030 to promote scientific education and research in the region and strengthen the pipeline of students who are trained to tackle some of today’s most important scientific questions.
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