From second graders to high school seniors, young people are becoming scientists right in their own classroom — one week (and a few fish) at a time. That’s the idea of Project BioEYES.
Project BioEYES is a STEM education program that has reached over 130,000 children, both locally in Philadelphia, where it was founded 20 years ago, and around the globe. BioEYES gives students the opportunity for hands-on learning about the development of zebrafish over the course of a week — all free to the teachers and schools in under-resourced communities.
The program began in 2002 when Jamie Shuda, EdD, a Philadelphia public school teacher, partnered with scientist Steven Farber, PhD, then at Thomas Jefferson University. Today, Shuda is director of Outreach, Education, and Research in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, which has been home to BioEYES since 2011.
Over the years, BioEYES has expanded to more than a dozen sites around the world. And Shuda has partnered with Penn Medicine faculty to create more science and medical learning opportunities for Philadelphia youth — helping to develop and grow future scientists through programs like the Penn Academy for Skin Health (PASH) and Penn Academy for Reproductive Sciences (PARS), and the DrosoPHILA project, all focused on increasing scientific literacy and empowering students to see themselves in STEM careers.
“These programs, collectively, have the same mission,” Shuda says. “We have incredible talent right in our backyard and want to invest in the bright scientific minds of the future by giving city students the opportunity to become scientists, not just learn from them.”
Project BioEYES relies on philanthropic support to fund the BioEYES experience for free in urban schools. A gift of $20 sponsors a student scientist for a full week. As Project BioEYES celebrates its 20th anniversary school year in 2022-2023, you can make a donation to continue bringing this engaging science education to the next generation.