EL 101 Bootcamp for New Franklin Faculty Crew!

EL 101 Bootcamp for New Franklin Faculty Crew!

FSI welcomes new faculty crew!

Two weeks before the launch of the 2016-17 school year, new teachers circled up together for the first time on our campus for an intensive introduction to Expeditionary Learning Education at The Franklin School of Innovation.   Anne Vilen, Franklin’s EL Education School Coach and I had the great pleasure of working alongside these spirited and inspiring educators in Franklin’s EL 101 Bootcamp, designed to immerse teachers in experiential learning with these Learning Targets:  

  1. I can describe how we teach and learn at an EL Education school
  2. I can explain how a positive culture supports achievement in EL classrooms
  3. I can describe the purpose of Crew for students, teachers, and classrooms
  4. I can name and commit to consistencies for instruction and assessment at FSI
  5. I can balance self-compassion and growth mindset.

This training required that we all wear both teacher and student hats. As students, we engaged in inquiry, dug deeply into content & methodology, and experienced EL as a learner.  As adult learners/teachers, we grappled with how to transfer and apply the processes, practices, strategies that we were experiencing in our own classrooms and administrative roles at FSI.  We reflected on our learning and set professional goals for the year ahead, realizing that we all must practice FSI’s Habits of Scholarship as teachers!  

I’m very honored to be Director of Curriculum and Coaching at Franklin and to collaborate with our Faculty Crew, new and old, as we strive to fulfill FSI’s Mission and, as an Affiliate, the Mission of EL Education: “To create classrooms where teachers can fulfill their highest aspirations, and students achieve more than they think possible, becoming active contributors to building a better world.”

 New Faculty Crew circled up to create an equilateral triangle, while blindfolded.  Pictured post initiative: Meagan Barnhard, Charlie Talley, Katie Dulaney, Judy Carhart, Matthew Mikulski, Mary Ann Jaben, Kati Robbins, Marsha Davis, Peggy McCay, Jill Padfield, Hannah Allen, and Laura Bubacz  (Also, not pictured here: Stephanie Hellert, Amy Hinsley, Walter Plotkin)


“EL Education’s core work is building the capacity of teachers and schools through professional development, professional resources, and curriculum. When students and teachers are engaged in work that is challenging, adventurous and meaningful, learning and achievement flourish.”  Read more here:  http://eleducation.org/


True North = Compassion

IMG_9090From the pinnacle of Mt. Mitchell, which I recently hiked one crisp sunny November day with family and friends from The Franklin School of Innovation, you can spot Table Rock and Hawksbill on the rim of the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area.  Mt. Mitchell has long been a special place for me, both as a favorite family hike when I was a child, and as a teacher, having been the destination for hiking and camping with my students to start and end the year at the highest point east of the Mississippi River.

I regard it as the foremost task of education to insure the survival of these qualities: an enterprising curiosity, an indefatigable spirit, tenacity in the pursuit, readiness for sensible self-denial, and above all, compassion.” -Kurt Hahn, Founder of Outward Bound

Now that I’ve had the opportunity to experience an Outward Bound Educator Initiative wilderness training, on that very Table Rock you can spy from Mt. Mitchell, I’m even more keen to take students into the wilderness, both literally and figuratively!

The power of experiential learning is simply this:

–challenging students to take risks, collaborate, think and act responsibly, creatively and critically, and as their best selves–

whether in the wilderness (navigating new territory with a compass and out-dated map, climbing, kayaking, tying knots, cooking for your crew…)

…or in the classroom (working in teams to solve problems, collecting and analyzing water quality data, drafting and redrafting historical fiction based upon a slave narrative recorded in the archives of the National Library of Congress…).

The key is for each individual to be “Crew, not Passenger,” to be present and truly engaged, self-reflective, and able to set authentic goals for personal and collective growth.  In the classroom, as on an Outward Bound adventure,“By conquering their own challenges, participants discover their true potential and realize they are capable of more than they ever imagined.”  (See: http://www.ncobs.org/about

Expeditions, planned and carried out this year at each grade level, are vital to this self-discovery and authentic learning.


My Crew 10!


There is more in us than we know. If we can be made to see it, perhaps for the rest of our lives we will be unwilling to settle for less.

– Kurt Hahn, Founder of Outward Bound

which are aligned with our Habits of Scholarship.The traits of FSI scholars:

  • Be Curious and Inquisitive
  • Work Ethically
  • Work Collaboratively
  • Exhibit Leadership
  • Be Persistent
  • Take Action

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Franklin HS Cross Country Runners Demonstrate Persistence!


Franklin HS Cross Country Runners Demonstrate Persistence!

Cheers to our HS XC runners: Harbin, Riley, and Shane. All three finished strong and set personal records in Swannanoa at the ACA Ramble by the River  http://nc.milesplit.com/meets/241920/info#.V-bjtU0rLnC
I was super proud of the personal goal-setting and progress our HS runners have shown, just adding in the practice of Tuesday/Friday “pacing/endurance” runs (in spite of the 2016 unseasonably high temperatures at 3:30 pm!  Learning how to push and pace oneself in various conditions is key!  Directly transferring this experience and learning to academic and lifelong lessons is just one example of what Franklin facilitates at all grade levels, through sports, projects, and Expeditions.
Finally, a shout out to Lisa Browning, for heading up the Franklin XC program.  She recently shared this historic FSI XC data:

Below is a list of top 10 all time performances for Franklin.  It shows the 10 fastest students, their times, and when it was run.  This could be good motivation for your students to try to get on the board.  However, running is a fantastic individual sport in which a runner’s first concern should be enjoyment and personal improvement.  All of our runners are showing growth as runners and seem to be having a good time.

Middle School Cross Country Top Performers Boys’ 2 Mile

1. Aiden Browning   11:38    Waynesville Invit.  9/2015

2. Declan Mattee 11:50.30 WCU Invit 9/2016

3. Will Fehan  12:06  10/2014  Veitas Invit

4. Jaks Ashley  12:40.9  9/2014 ACA Invit

5.  Grayson Scott  12:44.9  Waynesville Invit.  9/2016

6.  Evan Camissa  12:52.7  2016

7.  Ben Reed  13:06 2016

8.  Bhaerava Sculthorp 13:34  2016

9.  Cameron Camissa  13:54  2016

10. Cole Chenevert 14:02  Waynesville Invit 9/2016

Middle School Cross Country Top Performers Girls’ 2 Mile


1.  Morgan Metzger  14:44  10/2015  Veritas Invit.

2.  Lana Lammel 15:12  9/2016 Flat Rock

3.  Brook Barrett 16:30  Waynesville Invit.

4.  Lily Moffitt  16:35 9/2016  Waynesville Invit

5.  Hannah Hailey  17:45  9/2014  ACA Invit.

6.  Jade Moonbourne  17:47 9/2015  ACA Invit.

7.  Karmyn  18:08  9/2015  ACA Invit

8.  Fiona Crowder-Marshall  18:12  10/2014 Veritas Invit.

9.  Sadie Bolding  18:19 Waynesville Invit. 9/2016

10.  Tira Ellis  18:42



Franklin Scientists Practice Inquiry in the First Weeks of School

Franklin Scientists Practice Inquiry in the First Weeks of School

September, 2016

In the first weeks of school, Franklin students are introduced to the process and purpose of scientific inquiry.  In my visits to science classes in grades 6-11, I saw and heard teachers and students doing the work of real scientists as they:

  • used data sets to build background knowledge;

  • set up scientific field journals for organizing information, making observations, documenting key concepts, and asking wonderful questions to guide further inquiry and experimentation;

  • practiced classification skills, as they begin an all taxa species count of life on FSI’s campus;

  • mastered using microscopes and safe science;

  • grew cultures from Hominy Creek water samples collected on our campus;

  • fostered monarch caterpillars to release in our waystation post metamorphosis.

Stay tuned as these early introductions to science establish essential understandings and practices that enable Franklin scientists in all grades to go deeper into the wonderful world of scientific inquiry.  Our campus is a laboratory of learning.

Water Is Life! Celebration of Learning

Press Release for FSI’s 8th Grade Water is Life!” Expedition Celebration of Learning                 

Friday, May 27, 8:15 am – 2pm, at 21 Innovation Dr, off Sardis Rd.                                       

For Immediate Release: On Friday, May 27, Franklin School of Innovation 8th Grade Students will partner with Asheville GreenWorks to clean a 2-mile portion of Hominy Creek during FSI’s Celebration of Learning!  The stream clean is the culmination of a six-week study, in which students studied the impact of water on the history of Buncombe County and the lives of its residents.  During the “Water Is Life!” Celebration of Learning, students will share science projects, math data, their collective website project, and skits. We invite interested members of the community to share in this celebration of learning and participate in the stream-clean up.


This year, all Franklin students have participated in a Learning Expedition, an in-depth study through which students study big questions from multiple perspectives. FSI Learning Expeditions have also encourage students to take action towards sustainability through service-learning. The 8th Grade Expedition focused on water, which plays a crucial role in the development of communities throughout history. Students investigated the meaning of the phrase “Water is Life” from historical, literary, and scientific perspectives. Guiding questions and culminating projects for each core subject:

  • In ELA: How do different cultural narratives about water inform our human story?  Students have created skits to adapt the folklore from the cultures that called the French Broad River home during the 17th and 18th centuries.
  • In Science:  How can an understanding of the hydrosphere, watersheds, and human uses of water in history and today impact our stewardship of water resources?   Students created a water quality index to evaluate the health of Hominy Creek
  • In Math: How can data be converted into visual formats that are easily understood and compelling? Students analyzed the data collected from Hominy Creek
  • In Social Studies: How have groups in history and today competed for, cooperated, and conflicted over water resources in North Carolina? Students researched  the history of the cultures of the people living near the French Broad River during the 17th and 18th centuries and presented their findings on a student-designed website.

Please join us for an inspiring morning of Expeditionary Learning!

Agenda for Celebration of Learning:

  • 8:15- 8:30- Welcoming and agenda for the day is presented.
  • 8:30- 9:45-  Gallery walk presentation of Lab Reports and SS work and ELA performances.
  • 9:45- 10:15- Guest speakers (Asheville GreenWorks, Environmental Quality Institute)
  • 10:15- 10:45- Break   
  • 10:45- 1:45- Stream clean  
  • 1:45- 2:00– Closing and Dismissal


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Service Learning

FSI 8th graders, on this “Water is Life!” expedition have been collecting data on  pH, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, nitrates, and phosphates in Hominy Creek, investigating whether the creek can support aquatic life and the safety and potability of creek water. Data will be shared with environmental groups working to improve water quality throughout our region.  In support of this Water Quality Index Project, Peggy Altman, 8th Grade math teacher, and I applied for and were awarded a Burrough’s Welcome PRISM grant to purchase $3,000 of LabQuest Probes.  These tools enable our students to do the work of real scientists, both in the Water Quality Index and in other inquiry based science projects across all grade levels at FSI.

Getting out into the real world to take action

Earlier this spring, students collaborated with GreenWorks to plant a 100-tree “live stakes” nursery at Franklin. The native trees will provide a source for stakes that will be planted along Hominy Creek as part of creek restoration efforts. Collectively, Franklin students have planted nearly 1,000 trees this year!  We are grateful for having the support of our community: Greenworks, Eric Bradford, Mountain True, Friends of Hominy Creek, RiverLink, and an amazing crew of 8th grade teachers and students to be leaders in taking learning into positive action on behalf of a more sustainable planet.

FSI students join Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity Student Build #3



Having recently investigated the cultural and environmental history of Asheville and its environment, with a focus on the consequences and impacts of migration, FSI high school students have been guided by the question: “What is the value of diversity?”

Student-directed inquiry over the course of this 9th-10th grade Learning Expedition, “On the Move,” has identified a consequence of movement and change: the current shortage of affordable housing in the Asheville area.

Seeking to make a positive difference, through Asheville’s Habitat for Humanity service learning project: Student Build #3, Franklin School of Innovation has joined forces with Christ School, Carolina Day, and ACA .

The Student Leadership teams from each school met on April 20, 2016 at Asheville’s Habitat for Humanity to learn more about fundraising and house-building, and to visit the Shiloh neighborhood, where we’ll be constructing our Student Build #3 home. We were greeted in the Shiloh Community Garden by Anita White, a retired UNCA librarian and expert historian, who welcomed and inspired us with stories of the Shiloh neighborhood history.

Anita White shares Shiloh neighborhood history .  You can learn more here. 



4.20.16 student build workshop.largeOff to a great start, the Student Build Leadership Team submitted a grant to State Farm and was awarded $3,000!

This is just the beginning of a long term service-learning project.  Please stay tuned as our FSI Student Build Leadership Team members, Sydney Freeman, Emma McDowell, and Meredith Bordeaux, finalize and share fundraising initiatives.  FSI is proud to be the first public charter school to participate in an Asheville Habitat for Humanity Student Build project.


ON THE MOVE!  In this expedition, students looked at different populations of people, plants, and animals migrating throughout Asheville. We explored the diversity of these groups and how they have changed over time. In Civics, students completed a case-study of a neighborhood in Asheville, digging into demographics and census data to paint a picture of how the neighborhood has changed; in ELA, students crafted a spoken word poem to reflect the consequences of those changes in their studied neighborhood; in Science, students collected and analyzed data on plant, bird, and tree species, examining a question of biodiversity through a scientific research paper; in Math, students created data displays from their science and social students research using graphs and statistics.

On Expedition: 7th Grade Technology and Work


Circle up 7th graders to reflect upon Habits of Scholarship and all the awesome science stuff learned about simple machines during this Expedition!  The Gold Standard of the Science Field Journal has fostered innovative scientific thinking and doing at FSI this year.



IMG_0035IMG_0040IMG_0033IMG_0032If you had visited The Franklin School of Innovation 7th grade this month, you would have definitely seen and heard students leading their own learning, through: inquiry, innovation, and design-thinking, as they practiced the work of scientists, historians, writers, artists, and mathematicians.   I recently visited a class Sarah Gold had dedicated to independent work time.  Here’s what she was facilitating, as students engaged in the work of the day: 

Complete work on each of the following sections of your infographic:

  • Introduction
    • Who is Rube Goldberg? What is a Rube Goldberg machine? Why did we build Rube Goldberg machines in science? How does this relate to the expedition?
  • Sketch & Description 
    • See student folder in g-drive for scanned-in sketch
    • Write a step-by-step account of how your Rube Goldberg machine works, including how each of the simple machines are involved. (See rubric attached for details.)
  • Machines and Mechanical Advantage
    • What is mechanical advantage? How do the simple machines in your Rube Goldberg create mechanical advantage? How does this help you do work on the marble? (See rubric attached for details.)
  • Energy conservation
    • Work and energy are basically the same thing. What types of energy does your Rube Goldberg machine use to work? How is energy transferred throughout your Rube Goldberg? How is potential energy transformed to kinetic energy or vice versa in your RG machine? (See rubric attached for details.)

RG Rubric – Sheet1



Palpable to all present were the purpose and intensity of this 7th grade science classroom circle!  Seventh graders held silent attention to instructions for the moment of truth: demonstration of Rube Goldberg machines that work.  All the Habits of Scholarship and the Academic Standards were magically merged into the practical demonstration of each RG design machine tested in a group of peers.  Feedback was kind, timely, and meaningful.  Design tweaks were made, based upon this supportive feedback, and most were successful. When they weren’t it was GROWTH MINDSET, that kicked in.  Each student was supported and inspired to problem-solve and redesign for success.


This is Expeditionary Learning at its best.


7th graders started their exploration of Simple Machines by creating and assessing the effectiveness of human machines in the Expedition Kickoff:


See Gold Standard RG machines by FSI 7th graders:  https://sites.google.com/a/thefsi.us/the-gold-standard/home/modules/4—work-matters/week07-march06


Read more about Rube Goldberg


Just in case you were curious, these are NC State Standards for Science covered in this Expediton:

7.P.1.1 Explain how the motion of an object can be described by its position, direction of motion, and speed with respect to some other object.

7.P.1.2 Explain the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces acting on an object (including friction, gravity and magnets).

7.P.2.1 Explain how kinetic and potential energy contribute to the mechanical energy of an object.

7.P.2.2 Explain how energy can be transformed from one form to another (specifically potential energy and kinetic energy) using a model or diagram of a moving object (roller coaster, pendulum, or cars on ramps as examples).

7.P.2.3 Recognize that energy can be transferred from one system to another when two objects push or pull on each other over a distance (work)…

7.P.2.4 Explain how simple machines such as inclined planes, pulleys, levers and wheel and axles are used to create mechanical advantage and increase efficiency.

Overarching questions:

  • How do machines work?
  • How did machines change working conditions as countries industrialized?
  • How does technological change shape Asheville’s workplace today?

Long-term learning targets:

I can explain the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces acting on an object.

I can explain how energy is transferred and transformed in mechanical systems.

I can model energy transfer from one system to another when work is done.

I can explain how simple machines increase the efficiency of work.

Lesson Vocabulary:

  • Force
  • Work
  • Efficiency
  • Energy
  • Mechanical advantage
  • Velocity

Daily learning targets:

  • I can design and build a Rube Goldberg machine that does work on a marble.
  • I can demonstrate how energy is transferred and transformed in mechanical systems and how simple machines increase the efficiency of work.
  • I can present my design and analysis using accurate scale drawings, data, calculations, and text in an infographic using Piktochart.

In this lesson, students will apply their knowledge of complex and simple machines to design a Rube Goldberg Machine. Students will calculate the mechanical advantage of 1, 2, 3, or more simple machines in their design. Students should also relate Newton’s 3 Laws of Motion to their machine.
Pre-requisite knowledge: Exposure to Newton’s 3 Laws of Motion. Experience with six simple machines. Practice working mechanical advantage problems and efficiency.



Meanwhile, in Mr. Clendenin’s 7th Grade Social Studies Classes: students have created Illustrated Mind Maps to share what they’ve learned on expedition about Technology and Work and social, ethical, environmental consequences:

Here are a few of the Social Science Learning Targets students have been tracking their mastery of in this expedition:

I can describe the changes in farming methods that  created the “Agricultural Revolution.”
I can explain how the Agricultural Revolution created an increase in industrialization.
I can identify and explain specific inventions that sparked the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.
I can explain how new inventions lead to the creation of the factory system in England.
I can describe how  the factory system changed the face of labor in England.
I can explain how  the Industrial Revolution sparked the rise of capitalism and the main characteristics of that economic system.
I can explain how the economic conflict created by the rise of capitalism affected society.I can describe  the environmental consequences of urbanization and industrialization.
I can explain how society responded to the changes brought by the Industrial Revolution.
I can explain how industrialization changed political ideas in society.


(There are many more, but this list gives blog readers a “gist” of the deep thinking required for students and teachers on this expedition!)

Want to test your knowledge of simple machines and work?


In ELA:  https://sites.google.com/a/thefsi.us/fsi-7th-grade-15-16/home/english-language-arts/weekof3-14-16

Living Portraits and interviews with members of our FSI community about technology in the workplace…

Thank you all who have participated in this invaluable opportunity for FSI students to apply knowledge in practicing authentic inquiry, leadership, research, and writing!  We are looking forward to the final celebration of learning for the 7th grade expedition!


On Expedition

On Expedition

blue peter OB
Read more about the Nautical Flag, Blue Peter, here:


When a ship is flying Blue Peter, everyone knows that its voyage is about to begin!

FSI grade level crews have launched three expeditions in the past couple of weeks!

“On Expedition” are:

9th-10th Grades in “On the Move”

Throughout this expedition, students will look at different populations of people and animals migrating throughout Asheville. They will explore the diversity of these groups and how they have changed over time. In Civics, students will complete a case-study of a neighborhood in Asheville, digging into demographics and census data to paint a picture of how the neighborhood has changed over time; in ELA, students will craft a spoken word poem to reflect the consequences of those changes in their studied neighborhood; in Science, students will be collecting data on plant species, bird, and tree species, examining a question of biodiversity through a scientific research paper; in Math, students will create data displays from their science and social students research using graphs and statistics. Students’ elective courses will also supplement the expedition through song-writing and scientific drawings.  Our celebrations of learning will take place on:

  • March 24th, on the FSI campus– Science fair-style with the FSI community
  • Saturday, April 23rd, at Grey Eagle–Habitat for Humanity FSI Student Build Kick-Off & Fundraiser!!!  (More info on this event coming soon!)  

Students will share science projects, math data, neighborhood projects, song lyrics, art classes, spoken word poems with the FSI and larger Asheville area communities. They will each select at least two pieces out of the work samples that answer the essential questions:

Guiding Questions:
Why do people move?             

What  are the consequences of moving?           

Why is diversity good?
1.  Why don’t we stay in one place? Why do we move?


2. What is the impact of invasives on biodiversity on the FSI property?


3. How can data inform and influence our decision making?

4. What does the data tell us about migration and invasives?

5. What are the local, state, and federal political issues with immigration?


6. How is Asheville impacted through immigration?


7. How can I help create a more diverse population at FSI?


The UNC Asheville Arboretum served as our outdoor classroom for collecting bird and tree diversity data to contribute to Citizen Science.  We practiced the work of real ornithologists and  botanists in identifying species and recording data.
Marilyn Ball speaks to FSI students on her book:

The Rise of Asheville: An Exceptional History of Community Building.


Learning to use binoculars!



In order to collect accurate data, student scientists practiced sustained silent attention, quietly listening and looking for birds.

IMG_9798 (1).JPGIMG_9776 (1).JPGIMG_9795 (1).JPG

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8th Grade explores “Water Is Life!”

Water plays a crucial role in the development of communities throughout history. It is a source of conflict, cooperation, and competition between stakeholders in a community. Understanding the history and science of water–biologically and chemically–is key to maintaining water quality and explaining how a water source can serve multiple needs and uses.  For this expedition, students will investigate the meaning of the phrase “Water is Life” from historical, literary, and scientific perspectives.

As a culminating task, students will create a Hominy Creek Festival on the FSI Campus to share what we’ve learned about water quality, what we can do to make a difference, and our our studies have inspired creative and critical thinking and doing.  We’ll host a River Clean UP!  (Stay tuned for more info.)

Guiding Questions
  • How can an understanding of the hydrosphere, watersheds, and human uses of water in history and today impact our stewardship of water resources? (Science)  
  • How can data be converted into visual formats that are easily understood and compelling? (Math)
  • How have groups in history and today competed for, cooperated, and conflicted over water resources in North Carolina (Social Studies)
  • How do different cultural narratives about water inform our human story? (ELA)
Read about the Water Is Life Kickoff Here: 


Eric Bradford shares “Healing the Hominy Creek” at our creekside classroom.
Connie Regan-Blake’s storytelling set the stage for inquiry and imagination.




Innovation Grapple, with Peggy Altman:  

“How do we filter water?”


IMG_0175 (1).JPG
Water Is Life Expedition involves service learning: planting live stake nursery on the FSI campus to prevent soil erosion along the banks of Hominy Creek.

7th Graders Explore:   “Technology at Work.”

In science, students are building Rube Goldberg machines in order to demonstrate Newton’s laws of force and motion, the law of energy conservation, and how the mechanical advantage provided by simple machines makes work more efficient. In social studies, students are creating “Illustrated Thinking Maps” that illustrate and prove how technological change created a multitude of effects for people, places, and regions when countries industrialize. In math, students are applying knowledge of measurement and geometric figures to create scale drawings, beginning with a drawing of a simple, three-dimensional skimmer and building up to an accurate scale drawing of their finished Rube Goldberg machines. Lastly, in ELA, students are preparing to interview professionals ranging from police officers and firefighters to doctors and graphic designers in an effort to determine how technological change has impacted these people’s professions as well as their daily lives. With this information, students will write “Living Portraits” and will create an artistic silhouette component, which will both be displayed during our “Celebration of Learning” at Warren Wilson College on April 7th.

Guiding Questions
  • How do machines work?
  • How did machines change working conditions as countries industrialized?
  • How does technological change shape Asheville’s workplace today?








Read more about this innovation project from Ms. Gold’s class:  https://sites.google.com/a/thefsi.us/the-gold-standard/home/modules/4—work-matters/week05-february22

The 7th grade will be taking its expedition on the road next week! On Wednesday, March 9th and Thursday, March 10th, students will visit Thermo Fisher Scientific in Weaverville.

TFS Laboratories “help scientists meet the challenges they face in the lab or in the field every day. From routine analysis to new discoveries, [their] innovations help professionals do the science they need to do, the way they want to do it. [Thermo Fisher’s] high-end analytical instruments, laboratory equipment, software, services, consumables and reagents help our customers solve complex analytical challenges, improve patient diagnostics and increase laboratory productivity.”

More to come on all these Expeditions!  Stay tuned.  We look forward to inviting the larger community to all the celebrations of learning.  There’s so much to celebrate at FSI.