The Barcoding Life’s Matrix program provides high school science teachers with the procedural and pedagogical training, comprehensive multimedia instructional materials, and equipment needed to engage their students in the International Barcode of Life (iBOL) project within their own science classrooms and labs.

Developed through a collaboration among academic research scientists and educators, the Barcoding Life’s Matrix curriculum is supported by a comprehensive suite of instructional materials that bridges many life science domains, including ecology, environmental science, evolution, genetics, molecular, cellular, and developmental biology, and bioinformatics. The inherently interdisciplinary scope of the program transcends traditional discipline-specific boundaries to provide an exciting learning experience that promotes the cross-fertilization of ideas through the integration of STEM content across subject areas. In addition to its integration of content, processes, and principles from different scientific domains, the curriculum engages students in use of interrelated scientific tools within the context of a complete and integrated workflow. This discovery pipeline culminates in the submission of real data to a landmark scientific initiative of global significance.

During this research-based experience, students undertake DNA barcoding as a multistep analytical workchain that involves the following field, laboratory, and bioinformatics components:

  • collecting targeted marine specimens under the supervision of CMB scientists or their partners (teachers who lack the time and/or resources to engage their students in supervised specimen collections will receive tissue from taxonomically verified and appropriately vouchered marine specimens)

  • recording specimen data and collection event details using mobile computing technology (teachers who receive tissue from CMB or its affiliates will be provided with specimen metadata and collection event details)

  • uploading specimen data to the Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD), an online digital interface and data repository for the international DNA barcoding community

  • generating DNA reference barcodes using accessible and widely applied molecular biology-based laboratory techniques

  • editing barcode sequence data using a suite of Internet-based bioinformatics tools and software

  • uploading edited and unedited sequence data to the BOLD data repository

Importantly, students will receive authorship for the submission of their genetic records, which are transferred from the BOLD data repository to the International Nucleotide Sequence Database Collaboration.