Each year, North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives sponsor a grant program titled “Bright Ideas”. Teachers from all over North Carolina can compete in the grant application process to fund various projects in their classroom. This year, Piedmont’s own Beth Walker was awarded a grant in the amount $1975 for her project titled, “Exploring the Language of Life”. In a typical year, our local electric cooperative, Union Power, would complete a prize patrol and visit each school surprising the award-winning teachers. Due to Covid, everything is a little different this year and Mr. Stamey surprised Mr. Walker with the announcement at the December faculty meeting.
With the funds from the award, Mrs. Walker was able to purchase five BlueGel electrophoresis chambers and eight micropipettes, allowing students to load and visualize DNA, creating a DNA fingerprint for analysis. Last week, students in her AP Biology class visualized DNA fingerprints, where they determined the inheritance of a genetically transmitted disease, sickle-cell anemia, in a family. Students were able to use high-tech equipment and replicate the same work performed in labs across the country.
Without the grant from Union Power, it is likely that students in Mrs. Walker’s class would not have the real-life experience of fingerprinting DNA and learning about the applications of gel electrophoresis in the real world. A special “thank you” goes to Union Power for recognizing the importance of funding real-life experiences in the classroom.