Bringing Structural Biology to the K-12 Education Marketplace


This past weekend, I visited an art exhibition near Emory University at an artists’ collective known as Railroad Earth.  There I met two talented artists, Danny and Miguel.  Danny specializes in the creation of prints and sculpture.  Miguel specializes in the creation of digital animation.  I was thinking of starting a company that focuses on digital animations of concepts in structural biology.  The Boston based startup company Digizyme offers inspiration for such an initiative.  Digizyme specializes in creating animations for the biomedical community in Boston by using structures from the field of structural biology.  I am extremely interested in raising funds for a startup company that tries to get K-12 aged youth interested in structural biology.  The game Foldit! serves as a model for what can be created between computer scientists and structural biologists.  In my work as a public school teacher, I am struck by the depth to which youth are engaged in mobile technology.  I talked to the graphic arts teacher at my school and we talked about the arts and sciences.  This blog post is meant to be a place where I put these interactions down into words.  I ended up talking to a number of people at my school about the philosophy of S.T.E.A.M. (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) over S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).  I talked to a set of parents at my school about how African-American youth are at risk in education.  We talk about the idea that the arts offer a pathway for learning.  Charles Drew Charter School is an example of this philosophy in action.  As I have observed in my work this past semester, the arts offer perhaps the only way of engaging students who are not academically inclined in the sciences.  There is a huge divide between the ivory tower and the public with regards to the sciences, and there is an even greater divide between biomedical community and African-American youth.  I want to see African-American youth getting engaged with biomedical concepts from the sciences.  I will be working over the Christmas break on writing a grant to support the development of a startup company that seeks to merge these interests.  I think that the best thing to do is to focus on the development of a pilot project for the Atlanta Science Festival.  Assemble something for the general public to play with in the area of structural biology, art, K-12 education, and science.

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InnerLight Enlightenment by Dr. William Kaya Erbil is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

About kayaerbil

I am a Berkeley educated chemistry Ph.D. who is moving into the area of working on developing appropriate technology for communities that are subjected to socio-economic oppression. The goal is to use simple and effective designs to empower people to live better lives. Currently, I am working with Native Americans on Pine Ridge, the Lakota reservation in South Dakota. I am working with a Native owned and run solar energy company. We are currently working on building a compressed earth block (CEB) house that showcases many of the technologies that the company has developed. The CEB house is made of locally derived resources, earth from the reservation. The blocks are naturally thermally insulating, keeping the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Eventually, a solar air heater and photovoltaic panels will be installed into the house to power the home and keep it warm, while preserving the house off the grid. A side project while in Pine Ridge is a solar computer. I hope to learn about blockchain encryption software for building microgrids. In addition, it is an immediate interest of mine to involve local youth in technology education.
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