Math for biotechnology bio link-fellows2012


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Biotechnicians use math skills on the job that are not taught in math courses. Seidman describes the problem and discusses options for correcting it.

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Math for biotechnology bio link-fellows2012

  1. 1. Swimming Against the Tide – The Dilemma of Contextual Math Bio-Link Summer Fellows June, 2012 Lisa Seidman and Jeanette Mowery
  2. 2. We Have a Problem with Math
  3. 3. Story of Max• Max has a MS in biotechnology.• He was a student in our stem cell technology program.• He messed up his cells because of calculation errors.
  4. 4. LABORATORY MANUAL1. Prepare two 6-well culture plates with Matrigel basement matrix.2. Prepare 6 mL of a working solution of 0.02% EDTA from a stock solution of 2% EDTA.3. Determine the total number of wells that you will be passaging into and the required volume of Matrigel. The final plating volume of each well of a 6-well plate should be 2 mL.4. Examine the culture to be passaged and remove any differentiation if necessary.Notes: Matrigel is required for culturing of Stem Cells in our system.Matrigel is stored at -80C in 1 mg aliquots.It remains frozen at -20C to -80C, is liquid at 4C, and gels rapidly at room temperature.One aliquot is sufficient to treat two 6-well plates.
  5. 5. First Math Issue• Conventional dilution problem• Concentrated stock solution• Need to dilute it to the correct final concentration
  6. 6. LABORATORY MANUAL1. Prepare two 6-well culture plates with Matrigel basement matrix.2. Prepare 6 mL of a working solution of 0.02% EDTA from a stock solution of 2% EDTA.3. Determine the total number of wells that you will be passaging into and the required volume of Matrigel. The final plating volume of each well of a 6-well plate should be 2 mL.4. Examine the culture to be passaged and remove any differentiation if necessary.
  7. 7. C 1V 1 = C 2V 2Step 1 - Define the variables:C1 = 2% V1 = ?C2 = 0.02% V2 = 6 mLStep 2 – Solve for V1: (2%)(V1) = (0.02%)(6 mL) V1 = 0.06 mL, or 60 microlitersTherefore, 60 microliters of 2% EDTA in a total volume of 6 mL of PBS equals a working solution of 0.02% EDTA.
  8. 8. Max• Did not have a strategy for working with dilution problems.
  9. 9. MatrigelMatrigel is required for culturing of Stem Cells in our system.Matrigel is stored at -80C in 1 mg aliquots. One aliquot is sufficient to treattwo 6-well plates.(1) What is the total volume you need to resuspend the 1 mgaliquotof Matrigel?(2) What is the concentration of Matrigel and how muchMatrigelis in each well?
  10. 10. Given: you have a 1 mg aliquot of matrigel that will be applied to two 6-well plates. Each well of the 6-well plate will need 2 mL of media.Answer: (2 plates)(6 wells/plate)(2 mL media/well) = ? mL media Cross cancel units, and solve to get 24 mL of media
  11. 11. What is the Concentration of Matrigel and How Much Matrigel in Each Well?Given: You have a concentration of 1 mg Matrigel in 24 mL.Answer:1. Use proportions to determine the concentration of Matrigel: (1 mg/24 mL) = (x mg/ 1 mL) Solving for x, x = 0.041 mg/mL, or 41 micrograms/mL• Knowing that there are 2 mL per well, we can use proportions to determine the amount of Matrigel in each well: (41 micrograms/mL) = (x micrograms/2 mL) Therefore, there are 82 ug of Matrigel per well of a six well plate.
  12. 12. The Problem• Students, not just Max, can’t do the calculations they need.• This leads to: – Frustration – Slowing pace of classes – Expense due to mistakes – Attrition – Failure• In real world can have more severe consequences – We have heard of BS grads who were fired from a company because of this problem
  13. 13. So, We Try to Solve the Problem• Least successful method is to send students off to take math classes• Might have math modules in courses• Bridge courses• Might have separate laboratory calculations course – best option• Maybe these strategies solve the problem
  14. 14. ROOT CAUSE• Learn from the quality experts that it is not enough to identify problem• Not enough to solve a problem• Need to identify and fix root cause – otherwise problem is likely to recur
  15. 15. Tend to Think Root Cause is Lack of Math Skill• Blame previous teachers• Blame the student for not paying attention
  16. 16. But What Math is Required?• Multiplication• Solving equation, simple algebra• Proportions• Max’s does NOT have problems with the math• In fact, very few of our students have problems with the math.
  17. 17. • Why did he have problems? – Strategy missing – Couldn’t discern the math required amidst the other issues – Kinesthetic – Background
  18. 18. This Means• Actual math required to do most calculations is within ability of average students• The problem for students is finding the math when it is disguised within a context
  19. 19. This Means• Root problem is not really math deficit• It is problem with finding the strategy when it is disguised in a context
  20. 20. Contextual Math Has Certain Qualities• Has language, materials, methods that may be unfamiliar• Calculations may be difficult to find
  21. 21. Contextual Math• Has consequences – Mars lander – that missed Mars – Deaths due to drug overdoses
  22. 22. It Also Means that• Contextual math is NOT remedial or developmental math CONTEXTUAL MATH ≠ REMEDIAL MATH
  23. 23. This is Why• Once we accept this, we know that sending students off to take traditional math classes won’t help• Almost every student, regardless of background, benefits from instruction in biotechnology math – This includes students with Bachelor’s degrees – Students with calculus background – For this reason, we require laboratory math course for all students, even post-bacs and students who have had calculus
  24. 24. Have We Solved The Problem?• Perhaps by adding a contextual lab math class we have identified and solved the root problem
  25. 25. So, Is there a Problem?• Yes, an even BIGGER Problem• People cannot solve problems in any practical context• Not just biotech – Health professions – IT – Trades – Business – Etc.• Therefore, all have specialty math courses that are contextual
  26. 26. Why this Problem?• Maybe the root problem is that the academic community does not value contextual math• Such math is considered to be “developmental”• Fear of “dumbing down” curriculum• Therefore our students have not learned to apply the tools they learn in math classes
  27. 27. Assumption• Idea that students will learn abstract concepts first and then apply broadly to different applications• Also think contextual problems are “boring”
  28. 28. Assumption is Incorrect• Remember Max? It didn’t work for him.• Doesn’t work for many (most?) students
  29. 29. “ You do not study mathematicsbecause it helps you build a bridge. You studymathematics because it is the poetry of theuniverse. It’ s beauty transcends mere things.”Jonathan David Farley in NYT response
  30. 30. Common Core Math Standards• This chasm is reflected in these standards• Adopted by 40 states
  31. 31. Measurements and Data– Finished by Grade 5• Measure lengths indirectly and by iterating length units.• Represent and interpret data.• Measure and estimate lengths in standard units.• Solve problems involving measurement and estimation of intervals of time, liquid volumes, and masses of objects.• Geometric measurement: understand concepts of area and relate area to multiplication and to addition• Convert like measurement units within a given measurement system.• Geometric measurement: understand concepts of volume and relate volume to multiplication and to addition.
  32. 32. Algebraic Expressions and Equations by Grade 8• Reason about and solve one-variable equations and inequalities.• Represent and analyze quantitative relationships between dependent and independent variables.• Use properties of operations to generate equivalent expressions.• Solve real-life and mathematical problems using numerical and algebraic expressions and equations.• Understand the connections between proportional relationships, lines, and linear equations.• Analyze and solve linear equations and pairs simultaneous linear equations.
  33. 33. • According to standards, by grade 8, have learned almost all math tools needed for majority of occupations• But do they ever learn how to use them?
  34. 34. What are They Learning in High School?• A-APR.2. Know and apply the Remainder Theorem: For a polynomial p(x) and a number a, the remainder on division by x – a is p(a), so p(a) = 0 if and only if (x – a) is a factor of p(x).
  35. 35. • A-APR.3. Identify zeros of polynomials when suitable factorizations are available, and use the zeros to construct a rough graph of the function defined by the polynomial.
  36. 36. • Use polynomial identities to solve problems.• A-APR.4. Prove polynomial identities and use them to describe numerical relationships. For example, the polynomial identity (x2 + y2)2 = (x2 – y2)2 + (2xy)2 can be used to generate Pythagorean triples.• A-APR.5. (+) Know and apply the Binomial Theorem for the expansion of (x + y)n in powers of x and y for a positive integer n, where x and y are any numbers, with coefficients determined for example by Pascal’s Triangle.
  37. 37. TAKE HOME MESSAGES• Contextual math ≠ remedial math – Contextual math is not “dumbed down” – Most students struggle with contextual problems• It is alright to spend time on contextual problems where the math is not “difficult”• If the math community won’t teach math that students need, we need to do it ourselves
  38. 38. Sol Garfunkel and David Mumford Op Ed in NYT“How often do most adults encounter a situation inwhich they need to solve a quadratic equation? Dothey need to know what constitutes a ‘group oftransformations’ or a complex number?...A mathcurriculum that focused on real-life problems wouldstill expose students to the abstract tools ofmathematics…But there is a world of differencebetween teaching ‘pure’ math, with no context, andteaching relevant problems that would lead studentsto understand how a mathematical formula…clarifiesreal-world situations.”
  39. 39. They Conclude With:“It is through real-life applications thatmathematics emerged in the past, hasflourished for centuries, and connects to ourculture now.”
  40. 40. “In 1953 you were my math teacher. You promised me thatpolynomials would come in handy someday. How much longer doI have to wait?”