Encouraging secondary- and high school students
to pursue STEM careers is Mega:Bitess’ mission.
The Mega:Bitess Academy is located at the
University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture
in Knoxville. Educators at secondary and high schools
apply to participate in the Academy – taught by UTK faculty and other experts -- which teaches them about medical entomology, geospatial analysis, and science communication.
Mega:Bitess focuses on La Crosse virus, which is spread by Aedes triseriatus (or tree-hole) mosquitoes. The virus can cause La Crosse encephalitis (LACE). LACE predominantly affects adolescents and children. Although LACE can be debilitating or fatal, it is not common (about 68 cases per year, mostly in Appalachia) and – most importantly – it is easily preventable.
Through Mega:Bitess, students get the chance to develop their own class research project using the scientific method, collect data, map their data, and communicate their findings to the community. Educators develop lesson plans throughout the Academy to demonstrate the interrelationships of the concepts to their students. Seventeen teachers in East Tennessee completed the first Academy cohort in May 2020. Fifteen educators agreed to be educator mentors in 2021.
Encourage your children’s science instructors and school principals to look into the Mega:Bitess Academy.