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SBIR Phase II: A web-application that enables hands-on biotech laboratory education for students regardless of socioeconomic status

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 2137168
Agency Tracking Number: 2137168
Amount: $1,000,000.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: LC
Solicitation Number: NSF 21-565
Solicitation Year: 2021
Award Year: 2023
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2023-01-15
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2025-06-30
Small Business Information
3550 General Atomics Court Building 2 Room 435
San DIego, CA 92121
United States
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: Yes
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Vicki Meadows
 (858) 208-7266
Business Contact
 Vicki Meadows
Phone: (858) 208-7266
Research Institution

The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project is equitable access to a quality science education regardless of socioeconomic status or geographic location. Across the nation, science illiteracy is an ongoing issue with only 30% of students testing as having a basic knowledge of science. As a result, the U.S. does not have enough trained scientists to commercial or academic laboratories. This situation has been deemed a national crisis and is considered a risk to U.S. national security. A quality science education has lasting benefits to students including more persuasive and clear communication skills, and the ability to design and develop critical approaches to problem-solving. The long-term goal of this program is to raise science literacy across the nation and provide career readiness training for the next generation of scientists. The program meets all three dimensions of Next Generation Science Standards. A book version of the program is being rolled-out to independent study charter schools in California. The online program will be tested in schools which have adopted the books.Both book and online versions will be expanded to charter schools, private schools, and eventually public schools. Modules of the program may be adopted in areas without access to high-speed internet._x000D_
This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project addresses inequities in science education by providing an independent study application that includes step-by-step instruction for a hands-on chemical laboratory. All hands-on laboratories use reagents commonly found in the home for safety and accessibility reasons. Experiments are designed to be done without the need for a trained science teacher in the room. Studies show that hands-on learning is more impactful than computer simulations. Low-cost scientific equipment is also being developed. A hand-powered spinning centrifuge is under final design. During Phase II, a drug discovery module will be developed where students can find a potential cure for a disease in their own kitchen or classroom. Aims also include modifying the online application to make it easily expandable, scalable and maintainable for the long term. The application development includes technical optimization for reliable deployment nationwide and new interfaces to allow educators to upload content directly into the application. The project also includes security audits of the application including user information. Financial information will be managed through a third-party application. The product will be iteratively tested in classrooms and homeschools._x000D_
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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