BioEYES is a hands-on science education program that exposes K-12 students to science, the scientific method, and sheds a positive light on science exploration. BioEyes not only broadens the students’ outlooks but it also trains public school K-12 teachers in science education via seminars and co-teaching with trained science educators. BioEYES was started in Philadelphia in 2002 to increase Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education and has been developed into a program which allows students to conduct hands-on experiments using zebrafish. The short timespan under which zebrafish develop from a single cell to a free-swimming larva makes it possible for students to witness all the animal’s important developmental processes within the span of the weeklong BioEYES unit. Students learn by working with these tiny larvae, but more importantly, students become invested in the fish that they raise during their BioEYES week.
The BioEyes program works in week-long modules to excite kids about science and provide hands-on opportunities to learn about genetics, the scientific method, and developmental biology. The Outreach Educator brings zebrafish, microscopes, and program materials into the classroom on the first day. Using these materials, students design experiments, make predictions, and ultimately test their own hypotheses. Students can observe a baby fish develop from a single cell into a larva, witness organs like the heart develop, and by the end of the program week, view its heartbeat and the blood flow throughout its body. The students will emulate scientists by conducting observations and experimentation. The BioEYES program is designed to promote scientific literacy and increase students’ interest in life science, possibly leading to careers in science for some.
BioEYES Utah is sponsored by the University of Utah, Department of Pediatrics. The University of Utah, School of Medicine has identified recruitment of underrepresented groups as being a major mission. Therefore, the goals for this outreach program are to provide quality science education, close the achievement gap, and create equitable access for all students in science fields.