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Project Summary

Micro- and Nano-Space Explorations of Health and Disease seeks to reveal the unseen world, both living and non-living, at the micro-scale and the nano-scale which has immense importance for health and disease and is only made visible in detail through the appropriate tools of microscopy. The project is funded by a Science Education Partnership Award (grant 1R25RR024280-01) from the National Institutes of Health, National Center for Research Resources to the University of Southern Maine under the direction of Dr. S. Monroe Duboise, principal investigator. In this project University of Southern Maine (USM) faculty and staff with expertise in electron microscopy, microbiology, virology, and immunology team up with elementary and middle school education specialists and the staff of USM's Southworth Planetarium to reveal vast but usually invisible micro-space/nano-space worlds to grades 3-8 students and K-12 teachers and ultimately to bring fascinating views of these worlds to all. Starting with macroscopic and multi-sensory observations, the project staff (during phase I) will enhance visual perception of program participants by more than five orders of magnitude using USM microscopy resources including a Tecnai BioTwin fully digital transmission electron microscope (TEM) with advanced tomography capabilities in the USM Virology and TEM Laboratory. Phase I of the project emphasizes collaboration of biomedical sciences faculty and staff, K-12 participants, and the staff of USM’s Southworth Planetarium on curriculum materials and production of visual resources for far-reaching educational outreach. Phase II of the project will focus on dissemination of curricula and other products of the project while expanding outreach efforts and integrating the academic year programs for K-12 teachers into the academic offerings of the Department of Applied Medical Sciences at USM.

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