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Education Report for September/October 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.

Speakers Confirmed for NABT Symposium “Evolution: Applications in Human Health and Populations”

Seven speakers are confirmed for this year’s National Association of Biology Teacher’s (NABT) symposium, “Evolution: Applications in Human Health and Populations.” The fourth annual symposium, cosponsored by AIBS and the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent,) will be held on Saturday, December 1, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia. Admission is free, and all attendees will receive a complimentary instructional CD, developed specifically for this symposium by NESCent. All presentations will be videotaped for Web distribution.

The speakers and their presentation titles, in order of appearance, are as follows:

Gregory Wray: Genomic Perspectives on the Evolution of Human Health and Disease

Carlos Bustamante: Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign: Interpreting Evidence for Recent Natural Selection on the Human Genome

Marc Lipsitch: Sex, Drugs, and Natural Selection: Evolutionary Perspectives on Antibiotic Resistance

Sandra Romero-Steiner: The Race between Bacterial Adaptation and Protection of the Host

George Armelagos: The Road to the Viral Super Highway: Emerging Disease in the Time of Globalization

Sandra Soo-Jin Lee: The Ethical Implications of Representing Evolution and Interpreting Difference

David Sloan Wilson: Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin’s Theory Can Change the Way We Think about Our Lives

For more information on the symposium, including speaker bios, presentation times, and links to previous symposiums, visit www.aibs.org/special-symposia/2007_evolution-in-human-populations.html.

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Student Chapter Newsletter

The AIBS Student Chapter program published its first newsletter this September. The newsletter will be distributed quarterly and will include articles and updates from student chapters across the country. The newsletter is a great resource for helping students interested in biology to network with each other. To access the newsletter, or for more information about the student chapter program, including application materials, visit www.aibs.org/student-chapters.

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Science and Engineering Alliance presents to DIBS

Robert Shepard, of the Science and Engineering Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the participation of underrepresented minorities in the sciences, presented “Strategic Involvement of Minority Serving Institutions on a National Level in Large Science Initiatives” on 6 September 2007 at the fall Diversity in Biological Sciences (DIBS) meeting. Holly Menninger, AIBS public policy associate, and Richard O’Grady, AIBS executive director, also made presentations. The DIBS coalition is composed of organizations that wish to promote diversity in biology research, education, and careers. The coalition seeks to coordinate diversity efforts among participating organizations, and it holds three or four meetings each year in Washington, DC. For more information, visit the Science and Engineering Alliance Web site (www.sea2.org), the Diversity in Biological Sciences Web site (www.aibs.org/diversity/DIBS.html), or the Coalition for the Public Understanding of Science Web site (www.copusproject.org).

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COPUS Membership Surpasses 100 Participating Organizations

The Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science increased its number of participating organizations since launching at the start of 2007 to now stand at 109. Richard O’Grady, Executive Director of AIBS and COPUS Steering Committee Member, says, “It’s great to see this high level of enthusiasm among so many organizations eager to work together. The pressing need for all of us to foster a greater public understanding of the nature of science and its value to society transcends traditional boundaries among scientific and professional disciplines, so let’s keep breaking down walls together. The COPUS team’s three-year plan includes aiming for 150 participating organizations by the end of 2007, with representation in every U.S. State. Regional and thematic hubs are already starting to form, and we have launched, as the first major COPUS product, an online database of participating organizations’ related events, programs, and resources that all members of the public are invited to use as a tool to learn more about what’s going on in their community, across the country, and how they can get involved.”

COPUS has released the first edition of its monthly newsletter, the COPUS Clarion. Full of updates about the network’s activity, the newsletter also highlights September’s program of the month the “Student Biotech Expo” of the Northwest Association of Biomedical Research. Articles in the Clarion give progress updates on the formation of regional HUBS of activity, development of the Understanding Science Web site, and the launch of the WGBH / Sigma Xi Science Cafe Web site. For more information, see www.copusproject.org.

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The Nation’s 2007 Report Card Shows Gains

The latest “Nation’s Report Card” shows that United States schoolchildren, especially younger and minority students, have continued to make educational gains. The results, from the National Assessment of Educational Progress 2007 benchmark exam given to fourth- and eighth-graders, confirm that schools are making progress. Across the country, 48 states and the District of Columbia either improved academically or held steady in all categories. The new results show across-the-board improvement in fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math, and African-American and Hispanic students reached all time highs in a number of categories.

Highlights:

• Math scores for fourth- and eighth-graders were higher than they’ve ever been in the history of the Nation’s Report Card.

• From 2003 to 2007, math scores of fourth-graders rose five points. That’s equivalent to adding an extra half-year of instruction to the fourth grade. These gains were driven in part by Hispanic students’ progress (up five points since 2003).

• Math scores for eighth-grade students has risen significantly since 2005 (up two points), driven in part by gains among African American students (up five points).

• Since 2003, the achievement gap in math between white and Hispanic eighth-graders narrowed by three points; the gap between white and African American eighth-graders narrowed by five points. All three groups of eighth-graders made significant academic gains in math.

To view the full report, visit www.nationsreportcard.gov.

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Back to School: Five Myths about Girls and Science

The National Science Foundation’s Research on Gender in Science and Engineering program seeks to broaden the participation of girls and women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education fields by supporting research, the diffusion of research-based innovations, and extension services in education that will lead to a larger and more diverse domestic science and engineering workforce. The following are five myths about girls and science:

  1. From the time they start school, most girls are less interested in science than boys are.
  2. Classroom interventions that work to increase girls’ interest in STEM run the risk of turning off the boys.
  3. Science and math teachers are no longer biased toward their male students.
  4. When girls just aren’t interested in science, parents can’t do much to motivate them.
  5. At the college level, changing the STEM curriculum runs the risk of watering down important “sink or swim” coursework.

To read the full article, visit www.nsf.gov/news/newssumm.jsp?cntnid=109939.

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No Child Left Behind Bus Tour

Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings kicked off her three-day No Child Left Behind bus tour on 19 September 2007, meeting with students, educators, and parents in Cleveland, Ohio. During a visit to Watterson-Lake Elementary School, Secretary Spellings announced the “Empowering Parents School Box,” a tool to help families better prepare their students for academic success. Secretary Spellings hosted a National Parent Town Hall with an interactive discussion with parents from Cleveland and across the United States with a Webcast. Participants discussed ways to strengthen education in the United States, and how the No Child Left Behind Act empowers parents with education options for their children. On 20 September, Secretary Spellings continued the bus tour at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, meeting with military families and touring the STARBASE program, a national Department of Defense initiative to heighten at-risk fifth-graders’ interest in science and technology. Spellings also participated in the national Jumpstart Read for the Record campaign by joining with Americans across the country and reading to a group of preschool children. Heading on to Cincinnati that afternoon, Spellings hosted a town hall meeting with parents and students at Withrow University High School and highlighted the FAFSA4caster, a tool launched by the department this spring to help families better plan for financing college. On 21 September, the No Child Left Behind bus traveled to the Andrew J. Brown Academy in Indianapolis, Indiana, where Spellings joined with Mayor Bart Peterson to discuss the growing role charter schools play in providing families with educational options. Concluding her bus tour, Spellings visited the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the world’s largest children’s museum, to highlight the important role of science and the No Child Left Behind program to prepare students to be the innovators of tomorrow.

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Senior Urban Education Research Fellowship

The Council of the Great City Schools, with funding from the Institute for Education Sciences, is offering three fellowships per year for the next three years to promote collaboration between researchers and practitioners, and to provide research-based guidance for urban school systems. The goal of this program is to fund high-quality research by senior researchers with established records of producing rigorous, policy-relevant research on educational improvement in urban contexts. Though there are no strict requirements, we anticipate that successful fellows will be researchers with at least seven to ten years of experience and extensive publication records. For more information about the fellowship, visit www.cgcs.org/research/fellowship.aspx.

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2008 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program recognizes students in grades 5 through 12 who have demonstrated exemplary community service. The program, which was created in 1995, is sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Throughout the past 12 years, the program has honored more than 75,000 young volunteers at the local, state, and national levels. The application deadline for this year’s awards is 31 October 2007. To learn more about the award and access the application, visit www.principals.org/snassp/secinside.asp?CID=539&DID=48173.

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Upcoming Conferences and Events

Below is a list of national biology education related conferences, for a more complete list visit the AIBS Education Events Calendar at www.aibs.org/education/

November 1-3, 2007 – AISES: The American Indian Science and Engineering Society is holding its 29th annual national conference in Phoenix, Arizona. The three-day event includes a Career Fair; dynamic, nationally recognized speakers; panel discussions; and workshops for students, teachers, and professionals. www.aises.org/events/2007

November 14-17, 2007 – NAAEE: The North American Association of Environmental Educators is holding its 36th annual conference in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The conference, titled “Explore New Horizons for Environmental Education,” will include panels, symposia, and workshops on a wide range of issues and topics in environmental education. www.naaee.org/conference

November 28-December 1, 2007 – NABT: The National Association of Biology Teachers’ Professional Development Conference will be held in Atlanta, Georgia. The conference draws upon experts in the field of education and teachers from across the nation to present and discuss current issues facing biology teachers. www.nabt2007.org/sites/S4/index.php?p=376

January 10-11, 2008 – Sustainability across the Curriculum Leadership Workshop: AASHE, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, is pleased to invite participation in a two-day workshop for faculty leaders of all disciplines who wish to develop curriculum change programs around sustainability on their campuses. This workshop, which includes presentations, exercises, discussions, reflection, and planning activities, will be held at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Applications are due by 19 October 2007 and are available at www.aashe.org/profdev/curriculum.php.

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