Spotlight on STEM Outreach: Northen Lab participates in BLDAP for fourth year

The Northen Lab continues to support and promote STEM outreach and education at the Berkeley Lab, participating in the Berkeley Lab Director’s Apprenticeship Program (BLDAP) for the fourth consecutive year in the summer of 2023. BLDAP is a 6-week, project-based STEM program for high school students, prioritizing underrepresented groups from public high schools in the local area. This program provides the opportunity for students to engage in hands-on projects, build and develop research skills, and network with scientists and STEM professionals. BLDAP was designed to help students build STEM confidence, cultivate interest in STEM careers, and increase exposure to STEM career paths.

2023 Berkeley Lab Director’s Apprenticeship Program (BLDAP) students. (photo credit: Shannon Kelli Nicholls)

This summer, five Northen Lab members – Ying Wang, Vlastimil Novak, Yezhang Ding, Amber Golini, and KZ Gupta – assisted students with a hands-on EcoFAB based plant nutrition study. Students explored how the addition of nitrogen containing nutrients affects the growth of a grass plant (Brachypodium distachyon). EcoFABs, or fabricated ecosystems, are laboratory devices developed in the Northen Lab for studying plant growth in a controlled environment. Learn more about EcoFABs here:

Ying Wang (left) demonstrates techniques for removing plants from EcoFABs.
(photo credit: Amber Golini)
Vlastimil Novak (right) helps students with plant growth measurements.
(photo credit: Ying Wang)
Yezhang Ding (center) instructs students on taking plant growth
(photo credit: Ying Wang)
Amber Golini (left) assists students with harvesting plants from EcoFABs
to obtain measurements.
(photo credit: Ying Wang)

The 2023 BLDAP cohort included 24 students and each week the Northen Lab members provided in-person presentations and discussions on topics including, formulating hypotheses, taking observations and measurements, maintaining an online lab notebook, interpreting data, and preparing a scientific poster. They also provided interactive demonstrations on plant biology laboratory techniques, such as seed germination, seedling transfer to EcoFABs, adding and removing plant media, plant harvesting, and taking measurements of plant roots and shoots. The program concluded with a poster presentation session onsite at the Berkeley Lab campus on July 28th, 2023.

BLDAP students recording plant growth data in an online lab notebook (left) and taking plant root and shoot length measurements (right). (photo credit: Ying Wang)

The Northen Lab was excited to host BLDAP students this summer and looks forward to continue supporting future outreach opportunities promoting STEM education. 

Applications for BLDAP typically open in February and are open to public high school students in grades 10 and 11 (current high school sophomores and juniors) in Alameda, San Francisco, and West Contra Costa counties. Students must be full time residents of the state of California to apply. Students from underrepresented groups in STEM, low income households, and those who will be the first generation in their family to attend college are encouraged to apply. 

Visit the link below for specific application deadlines for BLDAP 2024 coming soon!

Berkeley Lab Director’s Apprenticeship Program (BLDAP) – Program Information Page

Check out other current outreach and education opportunities at the Berkeley Lab here: