ASSET is an NIH SEPA funded science education outreach program at Cornell University. ASSET has developed a variety of modular science education materials designed to stimulate hands-on, inquiry-based learning of fundamental biological concepts. Each ASSET lab module features living Tetrahymena, a single-celled protozoan that is safe and easy to grow and work with, and that exhibits many of the biological characteristics of larger multicellular organisms. You can view descriptions of currently available lab modules along with links for downloading teacher guides and student activity sheets.

In addition to the hands-on laboratory exercises, ASSET has also developed cross-platform modules addressing the integral relationship between science and society. ASSET Science and Society activities engage students in a consideration of the impact of science, technology, and the environment in shaping society, and of the reciprocal effect of societal pressures on scientific endeavor. The modules highlight the importance of science in the real world, and can be used in science, social studies, and history classes. You can see descriptions of ASSET Science and Society modules, along with links for downloading teacher guides and student handouts.

The teacher guide for each module clearly lists relevant NGSS and Common Core standards, and provides background information to simplify classroom use of the materials.

What ASSET offers

Science modules for high school, middle school, and elementary school students

Children are naturally inquisitive about the world around them. ASSET activities nurture that innate curiosity by engaging students in an interactive, hands-on exploration of the world of biology using safe, easily manipulated live Tetrahymena. Each module introduces students to a core biological concept using an interactive approach that involves scientific observation, manipulation of experimental materials, and evaluation of results. Each module is a stand-alone unit that comes with information relating the content to core concepts and, and is supported by a small equipment lending library that can provide teachers at under-resourced schools with the materials needed to carry out the modules. Comprehensive teacher guides and detailed student handouts are provided for each module to facilitate classroom implementation.

Classroom research opportunities for high school students using Tetrahymena as a research model

Every so often something in class will catch a student’s interest and imagination. The ASSET program hopes to capture that moment by encouraging motivated students to follow up on an idea that interests them. Using existing high school modules as a hands-on introduction to the use of Tetrahymena to explore biological phenomena, ASSET will provide an opportunity for motivated students to conduct independent investigation using the Tetrahymena system, either individually, as a small group, or as part of an independent research class. With teacher guidance, students will frame and research a question of interest, develop and carry out an experimental plan, and present the results and analysis of their experiments as a research paper, a poster, or a multimedia presentation that can be linked to the ASSET website. Information and guidelines to help students develop a feasible project will be available on the website. Students will be encouraged to submit their work for possible publication in the Finger Lakes Journal of Secondary Science (www.fljss.com), a journal dedicated to publishing student research papers. ASSET will also conduct a virtual science fair for Tetrahymena based student projects each spring.

Materials addressing the interaction of science and society for all grade levels

Science and society are inextricably interwoven. ASSET has created grade appropriate cross-curricular activities engaging students at all levels in a dynamic consideration of the inter-relatedness of science and society.  The ASSET modules integrating science and society provide well-researched and documented material suitable for use in both science and social studies curricula, addressing fundamental scientific issues with a direct relationship to life outside the classroom. Well-documented independent research addressing topics at the intersection of science and society are also encouraged, and completed projects are eligible for entry into the ASSET virtual science fair.

Equipment Lending Library

ASSET maintains a small equipment lending library that loans required materials free of charge for a 2-week period to teachers at schools lacking the supplies needed to implement the modules. Details regarding the use of the lending library are posted on the website. Equipment requests are linked to specific module requests, and teachers are asked to list what equipment they already have so that we only ship what they actually need. Some materials can also be provided to support ASSET related independent high school research projects using Tetrahymena as a research organism. Materials must be requested at least 2 weeks in advance, and equipment is provided on a first come, first serve basis. The kits are shipped from our Ithaca, NY location to the school and back. Local teachers are encouraged to contact us for pickup after school.

Distance workshops

To facilitate maximum use of ASSET materials at all grade levels, ASSET offers short, interactive distance teacher workshops at local schools featuring hands-on training on the general use of Tetrahymena in the classroom and the specific use of one or two modules of choice. Distance workshops provide easily accessible training and professional development involving the use of all ASSET materials to larger numbers of teachers than is possible using the standard on-campus workshop approach. All necessary materials are provided free to workshop participants, along with live interactive instruction and follow-up support.

ASSET on social media

To help keep us in touch with teachers and to develop a sharing community of ASSET users, we have created Facebook and Twitter (@sepaasset #assettetrahymena) accounts for the ASSET program.