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Increasing the interest and participation of students in STEM is a priority for colleges, universities, and the nation as a whole. As new generations of students embark in training and in learning novel technologies to deal with the challenges of emerging infectious diseases, crop and food production, and the development of new and better sustainable alternatives in the face of a changing environment on our planet, we must also evolve our approach to teaching and learning. One strategy that may be found helpful as students face the challenges ahead is to instill inquiry and problem-solving skills as part of their education as early as possible, whether they pursue a technical career or a graduate college degree. Although many existing technical and community colleges were built with the purpose of teaching a specific skill to supply the demand of a workforce in developing industries, the disappearance of some industries and evolution of others call for a different approach to teaching and learning at this level of education. Here, we present two alternatives to teaching and learning, by implementing scientific research that can result in the development of more holistic students, who are ready to tackle the challenges encountered as they graduate and enter the workforce.


This article was originally published in the Journal of Microbiology & Biology Evolution, available at DOI: 10.1128/jmbe.v19i3.1653.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (



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