Computational Modules in Science Teaching brings innovative science tutorials into secondary school classrooms, focusing on integrative computational biology, physiology, and biophysics. CMIST modules include high quality, realistic 3-D animations produced with cutting-edge simulation and visualization software. CMIST subject material is chosen to highlight critical concepts that are difficult to convey with static textbook images and words; for example, cellular transport of molecules by diffusion and osmosis, or the structure and function of enzymes in cells. Specific modules are introduced in 2-hour workshops throughout the school year.  CMIST materials and movies are available on the CMIST website. 

CMIST is a program of the Biomedical Applications group at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center.  For more information, visit


Better Educators of Science for Tomorrow  incorporates computational biology and bioinformatics into a high school curriculum. 

Preparing students

The need for multidisciplinary skilled personnel is growing, and lucrative, secure careers in these areas are on a steady rise.  A multidisciplinary high school education better prepares students for their undergraduate work and gives them the prerequisite skills to face the challenges of 21st century careers and compete in the global job market.  However, many high school students get very limited exposure, if any at all, to multidisciplinary concepts. PSC is tackling this problem by sponsoring an introductory high school level course in the multidisciplinary field of bioinformatics.

With support from the Buhl Foundation, PSC scientists and an inter-disciplinary group of high school teachers developed a bioinformatics curriculum. Students are introduced to multidisciplinary education by  studying  computerized gene databases and subsequently linking information from the databases to biochemical gene expressions. This innovative bioinformatics course was piloted in three Pittsburgh school districts in the academic year 2009-2010 and is now permanently established in six Pittsburgh school districts.

Teacher training

BEST  prepares teachers to introduce their students to emerging and exciting biomedical careers by exposing them to modern molecular biology concepts. PSC conducts teacher-training workshops to aid single-subject certified high school teachers to teach bioinformatics.  All  of the course content is provided,  including weekly lesson plans aligned to the NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) federal standards,  and  mid-term and final exams.  In-classroom support to teachers can be extended if needed.

Course details

The course is intended to be taught as a one year high school course spanning a total of 22 weeks.  Because the course content is new and intense, more time may be required, and the course can be easily expanded as needed in a regular 36-week school academic year. Pre-requisites for the course would be Academic level courses in biology, chemistry and physics. Because bioinformatics is an actively evolving STEM area, a textbook is not justified, as most schools retain textbooks for  5 to 7 years.

The following topics are included:

Introduction to Bioinformatics; current & future applications; Review of Molecular Biology & some genetic diseases; Connecting Chemistry, Physics and Math concepts to understand Biology; Review of Molecular Biology Techniques and Applications; Understand importance of Margaret Dayhoff’s contribution to the science of Bioinformatics; Navigating through the NCBI website and understanding the content and scope of the BLAST Program; Interactively review contents of First semester using all web-based activities; Review of Bioinformatics & Understanding Algorithms; Using Evolutionary Relationships to construct Phylogenetic Trees; Initiate use of Bioinformatics resources to gain a better understanding of how genes and proteins can contribute to the development of a particular genetic condition; Protein Folding; Utilizing the principles of Bioinformatics to understand how DNA,  genes and 3-D protein structures can be applied to everyday real life situations. Apply the acquired bioinformatics skills to web-based lab practicums; Learning to derive biological information/significance after obtaining gene sequences, using what is called – Gene Annotation; Visual Pigments – a study in Bioinformatics.

More information

PSC is now seeking funding to expand BEST to high schools nationwide.  For more information, please contact Dr. Pallavi Ishwad, Education Program Director, at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 March 2014 14:18  


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