Major initiatives directed towards High School students

The main activity for High School students is called “Try the BioLab”, “hands on” experiments in some hot topics of genetics and molecular biology. Students run these activities under the supervision of a lead teacher and of young tutors, Ph.D. students and post-docs whose presence strongly facilitates productive interactions and helps in breaking the intimidating “teacher-student” barrier.
Every school day, one or two classes attend these hands-on activities; in 2010-2011 more than 12.000 students have participated.

A week as a researcher: the most motivated and skilled students participate in a competition that selects each year 30 of them to attend a ‘week as a researcher’ in a national or international research laboratory at the end of the school year. This contest represents a real scientific challenge for the participants and invariably selects very talented young students.

NEW! A week as a research 2016 edition.
This year the contest will take place simoultaneously in 25 Italian Universities in the framework of the national PLS project financed by MIUR (Ministry of Education, University and Research) aimed to better tune scientific education in High Schools into university scientific curricula.

Winners of the competition have been selected for the International Youth Competition for Sustainable Energy (2011-2012-2013 editions) held in Eilat, Negev Israel and for the World Science Conference held in Jerusalem in August 2015.

The project “Wannabe a researcher”. In 2006 CusMiBio launched the first “Wannabe a researcher” project, This programme aims to combine professional research with research-based undergraduate education and invites the 30 best ranking students to contribute to a research project throughout the entire school year.
Since 2006, we choose every year a new project in Bioinformatics. We strongly believe in the effectiveness of this discipline as a new tool to teach the basics of molecular biology and evolution. With the support of bioinformatic tools, the new fields of genomics and comparative genomics can be introduced to the students and molecular evolution can be shown in “in silico experiments” like aligning human proteins against the mouse genome, and vice versa .
The choice of this discipline is also dictated by practical reasons, since the time-consuming part of the project can be carried out by the students in part at Cus-Mi-Bio and in part on their own computers at home.
The 2006 project "Following the footsteps of evolution, looking for new genes”, carried out by 35 High School students under the supervision of university researchers, led to new annotations of human genes. The results were published in EMBO Reports (Pavesi G, Siccardi A, Viale G, Grazioli C, Calciolari T, Tenchini ML, Plevani P. Hedgehogs, humans and high-school science. The benefits of involving high-school students in university research. EMBO Rep. 2008 Mar;9(3):208-11).
2007/08 project: “Study of gene structure dynamics during evolution with a particular focus on intron sequences.
2008/09 project “Comparative analysis of alternative splicing molecular mechanisms in mouse and man”.
2009/10 project: ”Fishing for genes: regulatory networks in man”.
2010/11 project: “It’s only a matter of splicing: sex related differential gene expression in Drosophila.
2011/12 project: "Wannabe a tutor: from school to University a round trip"