This outreach program began in 2006 and is currently funded by a Howard Hughes Medical Institution grant. The aim of the program was to encourage excitement and interest in science from an early age. The simple experiments we do with the students allow them to create and test their own hypotheses. Furthermore, hands-0n activities ignite their interest in science. The program was created by Baldomero Olivera, and is run by his lab in the University of Utah. Olivera is a renowned scientist, and was named Harvard’s Scientist of the Year in 2007) for his research on cone snail venom. He was recently elected to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences. Our lab at the University of Utah focuses on understanding and manipulating cone snail venom for pharmaceutical purposes.
Our program, as such, focuses on marine biodiversity and introduces basic biochemistry experiments, taxonomy, and fun information on cone snails. We have developed books for our program, which will be available for pdf download in this section of the website. The chemistry books are intended to provide background information for the students about atoms, elements, and molecules, how things dissolve, and chemical reactions. It has been very successful thus far in the Salt Lake City school district, especially when teachers are able to devote some classroom time to reading through the first portion of the book before our arrival. Note – if you are not in the Salt Lake City area this section will hopefully provide you with enough support and information to conduct the outreach program on your own. Some teachers have also included some of the new words as vocabulary terms. The cone snail book will teach students about cone snails; their life cycle, functional adaptations, anatomy, and venom delivery system. This book can be used as a follow-up reading to the program or for use with this website. We are in the process of developing a teacher’s edition that will cover the chemistry and taxonomy at a deeper level along with instructions for the experiments.
Please submit a Contact form to obtain a password for the following sites. This helps us to follow who is interested in our program and allows us to contact you regarding the program and its success.