Appalachian State

Cabarrus County STEM educators get hands-on at the Plants for Human Health Institute

July 07, 2015

KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – Field trips are opportunities to enhance the educational environment by going outside the classroom, and having a little fun. STEMersion offers teachers a week of field trips to local STEM-related businesses and organizations. On Tuesday, July 7, 2015, 26 Cabarrus County educators participating in STEMersion will enjoy a field trip to the Plants for Human Health Institute (PHHI) at the NC Research Campus in Kannapolis, NC, for a day of experiential learning.

phhilogoIn Dr. Slavko Komornytsky’s PHHI laboratory, the teachers will use a low-cost Bio-discovery Kit that is easily transferrable to the classroom. Participants will follow the scientific method plating samples to observe for bacterial growth. By submitting the results after three days of observation, they become part of the research effort to identify biological materials that may demonstrate undiscovered antibiotic potential.

College interns participating in the Plant Pathways Elucidation Project (P2EP) at the NC Research Campus will speak to the teachers about their personal path to the STEM field they are pursuing and how the internship experience has impacted their journey. The interns will also facilitate a Strawberry DNA Extraction experiment using a “train-the-trainer” approach. Again, providing resources that teachers can take back to the classroom.

Teachers will also tour the Appalachian State University Human Performance Laboratory, located in the PHHI building, to learn about the research efforts of Dr. David Neiman, including collaborative research with partners at the N.C. Research Campus. Dr. Neiman’s lab is a national leader in area of nutrition and exercise immunology.

Chef Mark Allison, Director of Culinary Nutrition for the Dole Food Company at the NC Research Campus, will speak to the teachers about engaging students with the culinary arts by demonstrating the preparation of coleslaw and offering a brief overview of the nutritional benefit of the ingredients.

Aubrey Mast, PHHI Extension associate who coordinated the day’s activities, reflects, “Through our ongoing outreach with STEM educators it has become increasingly apparent that if we can, in any way, incorporate the spectrum of our research and its long term health implications into cross-curriculum activities, then the take-away is greater, not only for teachers but also for future interest in our research and disease prevention and treatment.”


About the Plants for Human Health Institute

The N.C. State University Plants for Human Health Institute is leading the discovery and delivery of innovative plant-based solutions to advance human health. N.C. Cooperative Extension serves as the outreach component of the institute, which is part of the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis. The campus is a public-private venture including eight universities, one community college, the David H. Murdock Research Institute (DHMRI) and corporate entities that collaborate to advance the fields of human health, nutrition and agriculture. Learn more at

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