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Education Report for November/December 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.

AIBS and NESCent to Host Evolution Symposium at NABT Conference

AIBS, in conjunction with the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent), will host the fourth annual evolution symposium at the National Association of Biology Teachers annual conference on 1 December 2007. The theme for the 2007 symposium is “Evolution: Applications in Human Health and Populations.” Speakers will provide current information about the role evolution plays in disease, medicine, human health, and the ethical questions surrounding these issues.

In addition to seven presentations, NESCent will provide an instructional CD-ROM (being developed specifically for this symposium) that will contain teaching resources, curricular materials, video and audio clips, and other useful tools for the classroom. For more information on the symposium, visit www.aibs.org/special-symposia/2007_evolution-in-human-health-populations.html.

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AIBS, Student Chapters, DIBS, and COPUS now on Facebook

In efforts to improve networking and communication among the broader AIBS community as well as AIBS Student Chapters, an AIBS group and a Student Chapters group has been created on Facebook, a social networking Web site whose groups function is being increasingly used by scientific associations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Center for Science Education, and the National Association of Science Teachers. These new Facebook groups from AIBS will allow for the diffusion of a wealth of information, such as programming ideas and career opportunities. They will also serve as a venue for the discussion of current news, issues, and research in biology. Additionally, a Facebook group has been created for both the Diversity in Biological Sciences coalition and the Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science. These new forums for discussion and the sharing of best practices will help expand the coalitions’ reach and ability to affect change in the biological community. Weblinks to the Facebook groups can be found on the AIBS Web site, including the front page and www.aibs.org/student-chapters/; www.aibs.org/diversity/DIBS.html—or just go to www.Facebook.com and search for the group by name.

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AIBS 2008 Annual Meeting on Climate, Environment, and Infectious Diseases next May to Include BSCS / NABT workshop and WGBH session on Science Cafes

The 2008 annual meeting of the American Institute of Biological Sciences will be held 12 and 13 May on the theme of “Climate, Environment, and Infectious Diseases.” Registration, poster submissions, and the preliminary program are online at www.aibs.org/annual-meeting/annualmeeting2008.html.

The program chair is 2008 AIBS President Rita Colwell. The location is the Westin Hotel in Arlington, Virginia—a two-minute walk from the National Science Foundation building and a few station stops from downtown Washington DC on the Metro subway system.

Confirmed speakers include: Andrew Dobson, Princeton University; Durland Fish, Yale University; Howard Frumkin, National Center for Environmental Health; Stephen Hoffman, Sanaria, Inc., Rockville, Maryland; Duane Gubler, University of Hawaii; Stephen Morse, Columbia University; David Rogers, Oxford University; Kim Stanley Robinson, author of Sixty Days and Counting; Robert Morris, author of The Blue Death: Disease, Disaster, and the Water We Drink.

Additional program content includes a BSCS / NABT workshop for teachers on the AIBS meeting’s topic, and a session by the WGBH Educational Foundation on Science Cafes and the www.sciencecafes.org network.

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AIBS and AAAS to co-host an NSF Conversation in Undergraduate Biology/AIBS Biology Education Summit at AAAS in Washington, DC 15-16 May 2008

On 15-16 May 2008, AIBS and AAAS will co-host an NSF Conversation in Undergraduate Biology/AIBS Biology Education Summit at AAAS in Washington, DC. This meeting will focus on the role of scientific societies in promoting and supporting undergraduate biology and will include examining how professional societies can stimulate, support, and disseminate information about undergraduate biological sciences education reform. To this end, the meeting is divided into two segments the NSF Conversation taking place on 15 May and the AIBS/AAAS Biology Education Summit starting on the evening of the 15th and continuing until the afternoon of 16 May. For the most up date information and a draft agenda please visit www.aibs.org/special-symposia/aibsbiologyeducation_summit.html.

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AIBS Updates State News on Teaching of Evolution Updates

The State News on Teaching Evolution Web site (www.aibs.org/public-policy/evolutionstatenews.html), a list organized by state and date that details recent challenges to evolution education, has been updated with news from Florida concerning its state science standards. In dramatic contrast to its deficient 1999 science standards, the Florida Department of Education released a draft revision of science standards on 19 October 2007 that prominently feature evolution. Joe Wolf, the president of Florida Citizens for Science, commented that these revised standards should be adopted because, “the kids will have a better understanding of science, which is what it’s all about.” Additionally, a brief fact sheet summarizing recent developments in evolution education in each state can be found at www.aibs.org/public-policy/teaching_evolution.html.

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ESA honored at White House Ceremony

The Ecological Society of America (ESA) is one of the recipients of the 2006 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM). The award, the highest of its kind in the United States, is supported and administered by the National Science Foundation and includes a $10,000 grant for continued mentoring work.

The ESA program, Strategies for Ecology Education, Development, and Sustainability (SEEDS), garnered the presidential award. Since 1996, ESA and SEEDS has partnered with the United Negro College Fund, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges, the Institute of Ecosystem Studies, and others. With the goal of diversifying and advancing the profession of ecology, the SEEDS program has provided a full spectrum of mentoring and learning opportunities to underrepresented undergraduate students. To learn more, visit the SEEDS Web site at www.esa.org/seeds/.

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Paula Fraser chosen as Walter P. Kistler Science Teacher of the Year

The Foundation For the Future presented the Walter P. Kistler Science Teacher of the Year Award for the first time on 2 November 2007. The award was created to recognize elementary or secondary level science teachers across the United States who develop and teach science-based programs of study about the long-term future of humanity. The first recipient of the new award is Paula Fraser, teacher of highly capable fifth-graders at Stevenson Elementary School in Bellevue, Washington. Fraser has taught for the last 24 years in the Bellevue School District . Details on this award and other awards given by the Foundation For the Future can be found at www.futurefoundation.org.

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The Association for Science Education Issues Statement Against the Teaching of Intelligent Design

The Association for Science Education, a professional association for teachers of science in Britain and around the world, recently issued a statement on science education, “intelligent design,” and creationism. The statement reads in part:

“…it is clear to us that Intelligent Design has no grounds for sharing a platform as a scientific “theory.” It has no underpinning scientific principles or explanations to support it. Furthermore it is not accepted as a competing scientific theory by the international science community nor is it part of the science curriculum. It is not science at all. Intelligent Design belongs to a different domain and should not be presented to learners as a competing or alternative scientific idea.”

For a complete version of the Association for Science Education’s statement (PDF), visit www.ase.org.uk/htm/homepage/notesnews/oct2007/ScienceEducIntelliDesign_Creationism.pdf.

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Biology Scholars to Lead National Reform Effort

The American Society for Microbiology, in collaboration with several life sciences professional societies, has established the Biology Scholars Program. This multiyear leadership program is designed to enhance biologists’ understanding and practice of evidenced-based teaching and learning. The program, funded by the National Science Foundation, is based on three independent, but intertwined virtual residency programs, where faculty employ rigorous evaluations of their own teaching in order to publish results demonstrating improved student learning in the laboratory or classroom, and to lead colleagues in national efforts to sustain undergraduate biology education reform.

The American Institute of Biological Sciences is an affiliate member of the Biology Scholars Program. Gordon Uno, Department Chair and David Ross Boyd Professor at the University of Oklahoma and AIBS Education Committee Chair, along with Samantha Katz, Director of Education and Outreach at AIBS, represent AIBS on this national initiative. Information and application deadlines for the Spring 2008 Research Residency is available at www.biologyscholars.org.

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US Department of Education launches “Doing What Works” Web site

The US Department of Education has launched a new Web site to provide teachers, administrators, and other educators with recommendations on effective teaching practices, and examples of possible ways to implement them to help promote excellence in American education and improve student achievement. The new “Doing What Works” site, www.dww.ed.gov, offers a user-friendly interface to quickly locate teaching practices that have been found effective by the department’s research arm, the Institute of Education Sciences, and similar organizations. In addition, it cites examples of possible ways this research may be used to help students reach their academic potential.

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E-Learning: Engaging Volunteers and the Public in Invasive Plant Issues and Management

The US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Center for Invasive Plant Management announced a new e-learning Web site aimed at engaging volunteers and the public in invasive plant issues and management. The Web site provides science-based, introductory information suitable for anyone interested in learning about invasive plants. The five, self-study modules address the purpose and history of the refuge system, how volunteers help in invasive plant management, how refuges manage invasive plants, and tips for community outreach.

The Web site is part of a larger program carried out by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in conjunction with partners such as the National Wildlife Refuge Association, to engage volunteers in managing invasive species on National Wildlife Refuges. Visit the program Web site at www.fws.gov/invasives/volunteersTrainingModule/index.html.

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Call for Proposals from NCEAS

The National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), a research center of the University of California, Santa Barbara, is currently accepting applications for Working Groups, Sabbatical Fellows, Postdoctoral Associates, and Distributed Graduate Seminars. Deadline for submissions is January 14, 2008. Postdoctoral appointments offer an unusual opportunity for interdisciplinary research with the advantages of both independence and collaboration with scores of researchers in diverse fields. Postdoctoral applications are open to all areas of inquiry in ecology and allied disciplines.

NCEAS promotes training at all levels. Graduate students in the United States and abroad participate in distributed, web-based collaborative seminars where they learn the concepts and data-sharing tools to synthesize information across geographic areas or habitat types. NCEAS is home to an international and interdisciplinary team of scientists committed to fostering a diverse community of ecologists. For additional information and application instructions, visit www.nceas.ucsb.edu/rfp.

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Ready, Set, Science! Provides Techniques to Improve Science Teaching Methods

Ready, Set, Science!: Putting Research to Work in K-8 Classrooms, a new publication by the National Academies Press, uses the groundbreaking and comprehensive synthesis of research and case studies to promote best practices of teaching and learning science in kindergarten through eighth grade. Based on the recently released National Research Council report Taking Science to School: Learning and Teaching Science in Grades K-8, the book summarizes a rich body of findings from the learning sciences and builds detailed cases of science educators at work to make the implications of research clear, accessible, and stimulating for a broad range of science educators. Ready, Set, Science! may be viewed online for free or purchased at www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11882.

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NCSE Announces New Resource for Faculty, Scientists and Institutions

The Council of Environmental Deans and Directors of the National Council for Science and the Environment announced a new online resource, “Interdisciplinary Hiring, Tenure and Promotion: Guidance for Individuals and Institutions.” This resource presents the first comprehensive approach that deals with the entire pre- and post-tenure experience. It addresses issues facing both faculty and research scientists, raising concerns and providing recommendations and examples. The resource is designed to help guide people as well as institutions in fostering and promoting interdisciplinary scholars, and to promote a dialogue about issues and options for different career stages. “Guidance” is available at www.CEDD.org/interdisc.

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The Best of East Africa Tour: Parks and Primates

Bill McComas and Premier Tours have organized a trip to east Africa to explore Africa’s wildlife and natural treasures. McComas is the Parks Family Professor of Science Education at the University of Arkansas, where he directs the Project to Advance Science Education (PASE; www.scienceeducation.org). McComas is also a professional photographer specializing in images of nature and culture. The 14-day trip is scheduled to leave 16 June 2008, and will include stops in Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda. For more information or to register, contact Bob Bergheier at bobb@premiertours.com.

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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/calendar.html

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 – AASHE: The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, is pleased to invite participation in a two-day “Sustainability across the Curriculum Leadership” 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. www.aashe.org/profdev/curriculum.php

March 27-30, 2008 – NSTA: The National Science Teachers Association will hold its 2008 National Conference in Boston, Massachusetts. The conference theme is “Science: Bridge to the Future.” The program will focus on four strands of current significance: Using and Abusing Data, Sharpening the Edge in Science, Cutting-Edge Research: Foundation for the Future and Instructional Technology: Research and Applications for the Science Classroom. www.nsta.org/conferences/2008bos/

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