This experiment is part of the STEM Education Challenge Grant. Browse more projects

How can we provide cutting edge skills training in open science spaces?

SoundBio Lab
Seattle, Washington
DOI: 10.18258/58918
Grant: STEM Education
Raised of $8,640 Goal
Funded on 2/22/24
Successfully Funded
  • $8,710
  • 100%
  • Funded
    on 2/22/24

About This Project

The traditional model for life sciences education fails to offer hands-on opportunities for diverse audiences. At SoundBio Lab, we believe that getting hands on with science in the lab builds sustained motivation and changes lives. We will develop and test a set of hands-on molecular biology courses offered in our community lab space. These courses require minimal specialized equipment and the curricula will be shared freely online so other community labs can benefit from the work.

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What is the context of this research?

Science changes lives. A wealth of online materials have been created in the last two decades that broaden access to scientific knowledge (e.g. YouTube videos, and MOOCS). However, when life sciences are taught only conceptually, far removed from the practical hands-on workflows that build scientific intuition and foster passion, students are not well prepared for a future in STEM.

Community biolabs open up access to hands on laboratory work to people of all ages and educational backgrounds. However, to our knowledge, there are no publicly available curricula for structured lab skills learning that have been designed and tested for use in these novel open science spaces. We aim to address this deficit by developing, testing and disseminating curriculum.

What is the significance of this project?

This project will empower more people from diverse backgrounds to pursue life science work. In 2023 alone, Soundbio has offered over 20 public & private workshops in our labspace, providing educational opportunities to over 100 people in the greater Seattle area. With support, Soundbio will develop structured, multi-week educational curricula that will provide measurable skills and knowledge to a larger audience. Beyond inspiring people to pursue life science careers, we aim to actually empower students to build up the necessary expertise. As the bioeconomy matures, there will be a need to lower the barrier to entry for life sciences to increase the qualified workforce. These courses, which will be made publicly available, will help prepare students both in the Seattle area and beyond.

What are the goals of the project?

Through this project, we will develop and prototype a suite of four new courses focused on life sciences education, including Biotechnology Essentials, Microbiology Essentials, Microbial Community Fingerprinting, and CRISPR Crash Course. These courses will be offered with weekly sessions over the span of 4-6 weeks, taught by subject area experts. In 2024, we plan to run each course with two cohorts of eight students each. After each cohort, we will assess participant outcomes through quantitative survey data and conduct follow up interviews with at least 20 total participants to extract key themes. We will then publish our curricula on our website and on QUBES. Finally, we will connect with educators at other community biolabs to share the curriculum and help them run their own sessions.


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We keep our costs low, leveraging donations and volunteer expertise. The items in our budget will ensure that we can make use of our current resources to deliver a new suite of impactful, hands-on educational programs.

Each of the courses will be developed by a passionate local expert, who will also serve as lead instructor piloting the courses. Stipends will allow us to more easily recruit course developers and will broaden access to this exciting opportunity beyond those who could work on a purely voluntary basis.

Funding for our one staff member, our lab manager, to devote time to supporting this project will ensure that all lab materials are prepared and ready for each course, and provide safety training for all project personnel.

Fee waivers are a standard part of how we operate. We pitch fees based on median area incomes, and fees cover purely our base overheads (e.g. rent.). We will ensure that no one is prevented from accessing our programs based on financial situation.

Endorsed by

The team at Soundbio works hard to provide education and access to life sciences and has been doing so for years. The people that help run Soundbio are educators, non-profit employees, scientists, and hobbyists.

Project Timeline

Early 2024: Recruit personnel and develop curriculum. We have already begun this work for two of the 4 courses.

Mid 2024: First pilot cohorts of lab skills courses.

Late 2024: Second pilot cohorts of lab skills courses. Assess participant outcomes, publish curricula in a peer-reviewed repository, and share with educators at other community biolabs.

Dec 24, 2023

Project Launched

Mar 31, 2024

Recruit developers and instructional assistants for Microbiology Essentials and Microbial Community Fingerprinting 

Mar 31, 2024

Finish curriculum development for CRISPR Crash Course and Biotechnology Esssentials

Jun 30, 2024

Finish curriculum for Microbiology Essentials and Microbial Community Fingerprinting 

Jun 30, 2024

Run first cohort of 5-10 students for CRISPR Crash Course and Biotechnology Essentials

Meet the Team

Orlando de Lange
Orlando de Lange

Team Bio

Orlando de Lange, PhD: Biotechnology instructor at Shoreline Community College and President of SoundBio Lab.

Ryan Cardiff: Molecular Engineering PhD student at the University of Washington. Since 2021, he has been volunteering with SoundBio Lab to help develop, instruct, and deliver workshops.

Dezmond Goff: Lab manager at SoundBio Lab since 2022. In addition to maintaining the lab, they develop courses, train volunteers, and build partnerships with local organizations.

Orlando de Lange

Orlando de Lange has been President of SoundBio Lab since 2020. He has extensive experience and expertise in STEM education, working as a faculty member teaching Biotechnology at Shoreline Community College.

He has published scholarly research into work in community biolabs that provided inspiration for this project (de Lange et al., 2022)

Additional Information

We already have experience developing hands-on laboratory curriculum, and are confident of our ability to expand into more demanding multi-session lab skills courses.

Below are links to a recently developed one day "course" designed as a basic introduction and jumping off point for folks aged 12 and up interested in exploring laboratory life science work. This is provided to demonstrate our existing expertise and our approach.

Lab Skills Training - Instructor guide

Lab Skills Training - Student guide

Project Backers

  • 21Backers
  • 100%Funded
  • $8,710Total Donations
  • $414.76Average Donation
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