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Howard and Hixson receive Mozilla grant for biomedical science research

A picture of a student looking at a computer.
Members of the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga's team pose at a community event.

Nikki Sneed

Students at Hixson High School and The Howard School have been awarded a Mozilla Open Science Grant to develop biomedical science projects. The international grant was also awarded to researchers in Ghana, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany and other U.S. cities, but Hixson and Howard were the only K-12 institutions to receive a grant.

Currently, thanks to EPB’s gigabit network, students across Hamilton County Schools have remote access to a 4K Microscope, housed at the STEM School Chattanooga. With the Mozilla grant, teachers at Hixson and Howard will develop additional curricula and research projects that use the 4K Microscope for biomedicine.

Mozilla’s Open Science Grants support researchers who are making science more accessible, transparent and reproducible, ensuring that innovation and progress become the status quo. Hixson and Howard will share $10,000, the maximum amount of funding awarded.

“Innovators don’t have to work at major institutions or even be a certain age,” said Lindsey Dodson, Interim Director of Awards and Fellowships at the Mozilla Foundation, “and there’s no better example of this than the incredible work students and educators in Hamilton County are doing with the 4K Microscope.”

The grants have been awarded specifically to the two schools’ Future Ready Institutes — the Erlanger Institute of Healthcare and Innovation at The Howard School and Institute of Health Careers and Medical Advancement at Hixson High School. In the Fall of 2018, Hamilton County Schools established Future Ready Institutes in 13 Hamilton County high schools, offering a unique career-based educational model to small cohorts of students.

“This award highlights some of the tremendous opportunities afforded to students by our Future Ready Institutes, as well as the innovative work being done with community partners” said Jill Levine, Chief of Innovation and Choice for Hamilton County Schools, “The Office of Innovation Choice is working with community partners and teacher leaders to scale up innovative practices in our schools, and this project is a great example of the work.”

Healthcare remains one of Hamilton County’s key industries, with a growing need for lab technicians, researchers and other professionals to enter the field. The grant will provide opportunities for students to explore these potential career pathways, as well as contribute to ongoing research projects.

“This is a great opportunity for the students at the Erlanger Institute of Healthcare and Innovation to Utilize innovative learning tools that are also being used in today’s cutting edge surgical procedures,” said Kevin Spiegel, President and CEO of Erlanger Health System.

The Enterprise Center has been an ongoing partner to Hamilton County Schools throughout the development of the 4K Microscope programming.

“We couldn’t be more excited to continue our partnership with Hamilton County Schools,” said Deb Socia, new President of the Enterprise Center. “Putting the most advanced tools available in the hands of this next generation will only help everyone have a chance to succeed in a world increasingly shaped by technology.”

Students will begin working on the grant this fall.