Advanced Science Labs Offered Through Amgen-URI Partnership

(Above: Science teacher Kelsey Buckley leads an Amgen lab on DNA structure.)

An education at Portsmouth Abbey School fosters growth in every aspect of a young person’s life. To that end, we welcome opportunities for our students to experience the best that each subject matter has to offer. Through a partnership with Amgen Biotech Experience, established by Abbey science teacher Christina Fontana in 2014 while pursuing her master’s degree at The University of Rhode Island, our students can gain hands-on experience with state-of-the-art Amgen equipment in their science classes. 

Fontana says the partnership provides the opportunity to bring laboratory curriculum, research-based equipment and supplies into the classroom at no extra cost. The program is designed to engage students in hands-on inquiry-based learning. In addition, the ABE partnership provides a LabXChange program containing pathways designed to enhance lab experience. Fontana recently conducted an ABE lab on Column Chromatography in her Honors Chemistry class, in which students purified and separated a specific protein in a solution.

Other ABE labs include, “How to use a Micropipette,” “Gel Electrophoresis,” “Preparing to verify the rfp Gene: Digesting the pARA-R Plasmid,” “Verification of the Recombinant Plasmid Using Gel Electrophoresis,” “Transforming Bacteria with the pARA-R Plasmid,” “Purifying the Fluorescent Protein using Column Chromatography,” “PTC PCR lab” and “Forensics Dye Lab: Missing Crown.”

Science teacher Kelsey Buckley recently conducted the “Gel Electrophoresis” lab in her Biology class, which corresponded with the class’s unit on DNA. Students were able to separate DNA samples into fragments by weight and electronegativity. 

Buckley says, “The Amgen program allows our students to use biotech equipment and learn about certain lab processes that are not typically accessible at the high school level.” She notes that Portsmouth Abbey School is well-equipped with its own micropipettes and gel electrophoresis chamber. Still, the partnership provides additional materials and equipment to allow teachers to complete these labs on a larger scale across all classes.

According to Fontana, ABE provides students with the opportunity to see another branch of science, biotechnology and techniques, ultimately allowing them to gain confidence in scientific skills.

Portsmouth Abbey is one of 1800 schools across 13 countries to benefit from the program. 

(Second photo: Results from the Column Chromatography lab shows isolated protein).