Maine Educational Biolab is Launched

March 07, 2024 · Rolling Lab on Wheels to Bring Life-Science Learning to Rural Schools

A sleek, custom-made laboratory on wheels—brimming with supplies and lesson plans and staffed by two experienced educators--will  bring life-science learning to middle school students around Maine.

Educate Maine’s BIOLAB will focus on rural communities and visit 12 sites this school year. The idea is to hook students’ interest in STEM and ensure an educated future workforce for Maine’s burgeoning life-science industry. The lab was launched in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the State House in Augusta March 6.

“Did you know that there are about 9,000 life-science jobs in Maine right now?” said Kate Howell, Director of Workforce Partnerships. “These jobs pay an average of $100,000 a year and they are located all over the state. People don’t have to leave Maine to secure those excellent – and rewarding! – jobs.”

The BIOLAB is 50 feet long, weighs about 20,000 pounds and contains lab benches, seating, audio-visual displays, and storage for plenty of standard and cutting-edge laboratory tools, from pipettes to microscopes.  Built on an RV chassis, the lab can hold about 24 students at one time. It will be towed from site to site by a professional hauler.

Two STEM educators will travel with the BIOLAB and work with  each school to align lessons with units they are teaching.  Some of the lessons already prepared include the “Micropipette Challenge”—which teaches lab measurements and materials—and “Parasite Predicament” which explores diagnostics.  Lessons aboard the BIOLAB will complement—not replace—classroom work, but the lab offers the dedicated space and supplies that many schools, particularly in rural districts, lack.

The lab's first stop will be in Fort Kent on March 11. 

Educate Maine thanks its partners and supporters for making the lab possible, including the Roux Institute at Northeastern University, Bioscience Association of Maine (BioME), IDEXX, the University of Maine System, MaineHealth, University of New England, and Yokogawa Fluid Imaging Technologies (Flow-Cam).  We are deeply grateful for the support of the Maine Legislature and Maine's congressional delegation and the leadership of Maine Senate President Troy Jackson.





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