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Education Report for May/June 2007

The AIBS Education Office provides analysis and communication for the AIBS Board, Headquarters Office, and Education Committee on issues of import to the AIBS membership and the larger scientific community. Reports are broadly disseminated by email every few months to AIBS membership leaders and contacts. Special reports are sent more frequently as needed. We have archived these reports here for your information and attention. Read about each report's contents below, then click to read the complete text.

Bush recognizes 93 teachers with 2006 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

President Bush recognizes 93 teachers with 2006 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST), the nation’s highest honor for teaching in these fields. Winners will receive a $10,000 prize from the National Science Foundation, the agency that administers the program. The list of winners can be found at www.paemst.org/.

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Diane Auer Jones to be nominated as the Department of Education's Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education

President Bush intends to nominate Diane Auer Jones to serve as the Department of Education’s Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education. Jones currently serves as principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE). Before joining OPE, she served as Deputy to the Associate Director for Science in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Previously, she served as an associate professor at the Community College of Baltimore County, program director in the Division of Undergraduate Education at the National Science Foundation (NSF), and Director of the Office of Government Affairs at Princeton University. Jones received her B.S. from Salisbury State University and her M.S. (applied molecular biology) from the University of Maryland at Baltimore County. For more information visit www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2007/05/05222007a.html.

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The Condition of Education 2007

The Condition of Education is a congressionally mandated annual report that contains 48 indicators on conditions and trends in elementary, secondary, postsecondary, and adult education. This report measures the performance of US students on national and international assessments, trends in public and private school enrollments, student-teacher ratios in public schools, trends in public school expenditures, federal grants and loans to undergraduate students, and the educational attainment of young adults, among other indicators. A special analysis included in this year’s report examines high school course taking. The full text of the report is available online at nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/.

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Launch of “Encyclopedia of Life”

On May 9th the world’s leading scientists announced the launch of the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL). Over the next 10 years, the Encyclopedia of Life will create Internet pages for all 1.8 million currently named species of animals, plants, and other forms of life on Earth. The portal is a global collaborative effort led by the Field Museum of Natural History; Harvard University; Marine Biological Laboratory; Missouri Botanical Garden; Smithsonian Institution; and Biodiversity Heritage Library, a consortium including the aforementioned institutions and the American Museum of Natural History (New York), Natural History Museum (London), New York Botanical Garden, and Royal Botanic Gardens (Kew). When completed, EOL will serve as a global biodiversity tool, providing scientists, policymakers, students, and citizens information they need to discover and protect the planet and encourage learning and conservation. For more information, visit www.eol.org.

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Women Evolving Biological Sciences Symposium

The University of Washington and the University of California-Santa Cruz are cosponsoring “Women Evolving Biological Sciences (WEBS)” a three-day symposium aimed at addressing the retention of female scientists and issues related to the transition of women from early career stages to tenure track positions and leadership roles in academic and research settings. WEBS targets early career women in the biological sciences with an emphasis on ecology and evolutionary biology. In particular, WEBS focuses on women who have earned their doctoral degrees within the past two to eight years and who do not have tenure in order to address the critical transition period from graduate studies and post-doctoral positions to permanent research and teaching positions. WEBS participants are current post-docs, research scientists, and assistant professors.

The symposium will be held October 14-17, 2007, outside of Seattle, Washington, at the Pack Forest Conference Center near Mount Rainier. The conference costs (lodging and meals) will be covered by the NSF grant and other funding sources. No registration fee will be charged. Participants will be responsible for travel expenses. Limited travel funding may be available. For more information, visit www.engr.washington.edu/advance/webs/.

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Degrees That Matter: Climate Change and the University

A new book highlights the leadership role that colleges and universities can take in addressing global climate change. Degrees That Matter: Climate Change and the University, by Tufts University faculty members Ann Rappaport and Sarah Hammond Creighton, provides perspectives on how to motivate change and inspire action within complex organizations. The book is published by MIT press. For more information, visit http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?ttype=2&tid=11131.

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Academic Competitiveness Council Report

The Academic Competitiveness Council, a group led by US Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings and tasked with assessing the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education programs at federal agencies, recently released a report on their year-long study. Their findings and recommendations on how to effectively coordinate and initiate collaboration among these programs can be found online: www.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/competitiveness/acc-mathscience/index.html.

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EnvironMentors: Celebrating 15 Years of Dedication and Commitment to High School Students

Nineteen awards were given at the 15th Annual EnvironMentors Awards Ceremony held May 24th in Washington, DC. This ceremony was the first national event celebrating students from the flagship DC EnvironMentors Program and the first pilot EnvironMentors chapter at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina.

EnvironMentors is an environment-based mentoring program aimed at preparing high school students for college programs and careers in science and environmental professions. The program is a collaborative effort of volunteer science and environmental professionals, aspiring high school students, science teachers, school administrators, government agencies, community organizations, foundations and businesses who generously support our work. For more information, visit http://ncseonline.org/EnvironMentors.

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Bridging the Diversity Gap in Science and Engineering: Introducing STEM Industries to K-12 Best Practice Programs

This report synthesizes the major findings that emerged during the STEM Education Diversity Forum held September 2006 in Washington, DC. The forum, part of Bayer Corporation’s nationwide campaign promoting science literacy, “Making Science Make Sense,” showcased a number of best practice K-12 programs that have a proven track record of helping girls and underrepresented minorities achieve in STEM. A companion guide, “Planting the Seeds for a Diverse U.S. STEM Pipeline: A Compendium of Best Practice K-12 STEM Education Programs,” is also available. For more information, visit www.bayerus.com/msms/stem.

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HAPS Institute: Continuing Professional Education

The Human Anatomy and Physiology Society (HAPS) has initiated a new program, the HAPS Institute (HAPS-I). HAPS-I is focused on providing meaningful courses of high quality that will be recognized as appropriate credentials for those teaching human anatomy and/or physiology. HAPS-I will offer participants the opportunity to explore a variety of concepts at a deeper level. Two pilot courses were offered at the annual conference in San Diego, May 2007: Topics in Anatomy and Physiology and Advanced Renal Biology. Participants in these courses will create a peer-reviewed learning module for possible publication, and each course carries one hour of graduate university credit through the University of Washington. For more information about HAP-I, visit www.hapsweb.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=184.

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The National Biodiversity Institute (INBio) of Costa Rica: INBio Park

INBio Park is an educational and recreational space designed to promote and inform people about the national parks, biodiversity, and ecosystems of Costa Rica, as well as the work of the National Biodiversity Institute. The park has interpretative trails and displays of living collections of different species and is only 15 minutes away from the capital city of San Jose.

The National Biodiversity Institute (INBio) of Costa Rica is a private research and biodiversity management center, established in 1989 to support efforts to gather knowledge on the country’s biological diversity and promote its sustainable use. The institute works under the premise that the best way to conserve biodiversity is to study it, value it, and utilize the opportunities it offers to improve the quality of life of human beings. As a nongovernmental, nonprofit, public interest organization of civil society, INBio works in close collaboration with different government institutions, universities, the private sector, and other public and private organizations, both within and outside Costa Rica. INBio’s work focuses on the following areas of action: inventory and monitoring, conservation, communications and education, biodiversity informatics, and bioprospecting. For more information about INBio and INBio Park, visit www.inbio.ac.cr/en.

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Investigative Cases: Contexts for Active Students Engaged in Science

This highly interactive workshop offered August 6 to 8, 2007, at Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, Michigan, will engage faculty in learning and teaching science using investigative case based learning (ICBL). ICBL focuses on decision-making in situations where science informs the process. Faculty will develop their own cases that utilize realistic, meaningful, and contemporary problems to engage students in scientific investigation. Participants should bring a syllabus for a course in which they would like to develop one or more cases. Basic familiarity with preparing electronic documents (word processing) and with using web browsers and web searching is assumed. No special knowledge of any other software is required. Participants will receive Biological Inquiry: A Workbook of Investigative Cases. For more information or to register, visit www.massachusetts.edu/chautauqua/courses.cfm?course_id=117&mode=detail.

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Eco-Schools

Eco-Schools is a program for environmental management and certification, and sustainable development education, for schools. Developed in 1994 based on findings from the UN Conference on Environment and Development of 1992, the program was initiated by member organizations of the Foundation for Environmental Education with the support of the European Commission. It is a holistic, participatory approach combining student learning and action. It allows schools to improve the environments of schools and local communities by involving students, school staff, families, and local stakeholders in the process. For more information on Eco-Schools and participating countries and schools, visit www.eco-schools.org.

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Education for Sustainability at IUBS General Assembly and Scientific Symposium

A half-day session devoted to highlighting international biological educational programs was held on May 12th in Washington, DC, at the 29th International Union of Biological Sciences General Assembly and Scientific Symposium, “Biological Sciences for the 21st Century: Meeting the Challenges of Sustainable Development In an Era of Global Change.” Led and organized by John R. Jungck, chairperson of the US National Committee IUBS and vice president of the IUBS Commission on Biology Education, the session covered a variety of topics from six international speakers and the history of the IUBS Commission on Biology Education by Talal Younes, executive director, IUBS. PowerPoint presentations from each presenter will be available on the BioQUEST website: www.bioquest.org/IUBS.

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