The Recorder – Frontier breaks in donated science equipment

Published: 2/11/2020 9:13:55 PM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — Popular scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson has said the greatest aspect of science is that “it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”

Well, students at Frontier Regional School can see the truth much more clearly now after the science department received nearly $5,000 worth of equipment, including 3-D DNA kits and 10 new microscopes, from the Massachusetts Biotechnology Education Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Founded in 2001, MassBioEd aims to develop “talent in the Massachusetts life sciences workforce.” The equipment got put to its first test Tuesday, receiving rave reviews from Stacey Chapley’s Advanced Placement (AP) biology class.

“We’ve only had one class set of microscopes, working microscopes, for three (science) teachers,” she said as her nine students worked with their new microscopes. Chapley said the equipment makes lesson-planning easier for teachers “so our kids get the most out of the science classroom, because it’s all about hands-on science and doing real science.”

Chapley’s class — roughly half seniors and half juniors — spent class time on Tuesday examining cell cycles of onion root tips and making comparisons to animal cells.

Students Lily Spencer and Madison Fifield also used a microscope to look at an equine parasite and then fish cells. They said the new instruments are a relief because the old ones had scratches on the lenses.

Isabelle Brown and Catherine Bezio commented on the superior quality after examining an onion root cell.

“It worked nicely. It’s a really nice microscope,” Isabelle said in the classroom, with walls lined with inspirational posters and scientific puns. “Some of the old stuff we had was tough to see through, but this was really nice.”

“It was a nice, clear picture,” Catherine added.

Chapley also said students have used the new 3-D DNA kits to make model DNA replicas.

“That was a lot of fun,” she said.

Chapley, in her fifth year at Frontier, said a previous MassBioEd donation acquired other equipment, including miniature centrifuges.

“Our budgets are so tight. We don’t have a lot of money,” Chapley said. “So the generosity of an organization like MassBioEd really helps all of us, and to see the kids really getting down and dirty with the science is huge.”

Principal George Lanides also expressed gratitude for MassBioEd’s donation.

“I’ve been able to observe some of the professional development they’ve done in Stacey’s class, and it’s been wonderful for teachers and students,” he said in an email to the Greenfield Recorder. “Once again, we are very grateful to be able to work with this organization and look forward to a fruitful, ongoing relationship.”

MassBioEd, based in Cambridge, accepts donations at

Reach Domenic Poli at: or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.

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