Although many people think about careers as a linear journey that continues along roughly the same track, building over time, I experienced a path a little bit windy that then led me in different directions. After starting as a scientist, teaching became “my second career.” After undergraduate education in Chemistry (University of Basilicata, Italy), I earned a doctorate in Biochemistry (SFU, Canada), and worked for 10 years in Italian university research labs as a PhD scientist. Alongside the will of being and working as a scientist, I felt a strong draw toward teaching from a young age, and I eventually turned toward teaching science, and in particular, chemistry. Therefore, after 10 years on the bench, I signed up for a higher diploma in education and started a new path of work and life!
The passion for science and its application in supporting human health led me to the ABE program. ABE gave my colleagues and me the opportunity to introduce biotech into our classes in school without the prohibitive cost of equipment and materials! Thanks to the trainings and opportunities provided by ABE and the ABE Italy program site, we have gained confidence in biotechnology and teach the complete sequence of the ABE Foundations of Biotech labs to our 11–13 grade students.
Sadly, our small school is not able to purchase and maintain the most current biotechnology equipment and is unable to continually invest in the consumable items required to run biotech laboratories. However, the Amgen Foundation, together with ABE Italy, is providing a tremendous material and human service to us and to the current generation by providing the means and opportunity to put real science into the hands of all students, giving them the inspiration and confidence to yearn for more. Our students find ABE to be stimulating and enjoyable and have a chance to sample the life of a scientist through the biotech labs sequence. Apart from studying texts and pictures in the textbook, students became aware of the hard and complex work of scientists, and felt closer to them and to their sense of commitment and reward!
By supporting our students in gaining confidence at using laboratory equipment and understanding and executing the protocols (and recording notes in their lab notebooks), promoting critical thinking through discussion and interpretation of data outcomes, and enhancing their conceptual understanding of the nature of science (NOS), our hope is to have our students understand that they matter and that their education matters and to open doors for students, changing their trajectory in terms of the kinds of careers they can see themselves pursuing.
Learn more about Paola in her LabXchange Educator Spotlight.
View a video by Paola's students on ABE's YouTube channel.