ASSET is back!

Our NIH SEPA grant has been renewed, and we’re back! Here’s a taste of what ASSET has to offer:

  • FREE 2-week loan of fully equipped science kits that engage elementary, MS, and HS students in an investigation of key biological concepts using safe, easy to grow, living protozoa (Tetrahymena) as a model organism. Student protocols and teacher guides included. See what we have to offer.
  • Students can also test the impact of e-cigarette vapor, tobacco smoke, and alcohol on living cells using extracts provided by ASSET. Toxic effects on ciliary motion and swimming behavior, cell morphology, and viability are clear and easily observed.
  • ASSET provides an opportunity for individual or small group independent investigation using Tetrahymena as a model research organism. Students identify a question, create a hypothesis, and develop a teacher-approved and supervised classroom project to test their hypothesis. To obtain cells, media, and short-term loan of materials and supplies, students submit a short “grant proposal” for ASSET approval. We are especially interested in providing opportunities for independent inquiry to students at under-resourced schools.
  • On-campus teacher workshops and short, interactive, teacher-run distance workshops at local schools, featuring the use of ASSET modules.


  • New modules introducing bioinformatics and using the Tetrahymena Genome Database to teach gene structure and function.
  • Incorporation of more mathematical concepts within existing modules to teach math in the context of core biological concepts.
  • Distance learning curriculum to serve students that cannot participate in in-person instruction.

We’re suspending shipments for now

Although there are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Tompkins County, to minimize the community spread of the virus, after spring break (March 28-April 5) Cornell University is transitioning to all online instruction for the rest of the semester. All undergraduate students and many professional degree students will be required to leave campus at the start of spring break and to remain at their permanent home residence, completing their semesters remotely. Cornell is also implementing further enhanced international travel restrictions, updated event and campus visitor policies, and enhanced cleaning procedures for university facilities.

In light of the rapidly growing incidence of COVID-19 around the country, and as part of the campus wide response to the potential COVID-19 threat, the ASSET program will temporarily suspend all shipments of kits and materials starting March 16, 2020 and continuing until the COVID-19 situation is resolved. Although the risk of potential surface transmission of COVID-19 is very low, temporarily suspending the program will eliminate the possibility of lateral transfer of the virus on equipment and materials shared among students, teachers, and ASSET staff.

The Cornell campus remains open, and we ask that teachers return kits that previously shipped as soon as classroom use is completed. Upon return, all ASSET materials will be disinfected and stored until the program resumes when the COVID -19 threat is over. Please check our website for updates. We will also contact those on our e-mail list when we resume shipment of ASSET kits.

We apologize for any inconvenience this interruption of service may cause. Please feel free to contact us if you have specific questions. We will continue to carefully monitor the COVID-19 situation, and we look forward to working with you again after this health crisis has passed. Be safe and stay healthy.

Foldscope workshop

ASSET held a Foldscope workshop for teachers on April 28, 2018. Dr. Jim Cybulski, CEO of Foldscope, and Dr. Laks Iyer demonstrated the use of the clever paper microscope for an audience of about 25 teachers.