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Education Report for May/June 2009

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.

"Evolution in Extreme Environments" Cosponsored by AIBS and NESCent

AIBS and the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) are cosponsoring the sixth annual evolution symposium on Friday morning, November 13th, at the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) Professional Development Conference in Denver, CO. The theme for the symposium is “Evolution in Extreme Environments.” The four speakers are Cynthia M. Beall, Case Western Reserve University; William R. Jeffery, University of Maryland; Jody W. Deming, University of Washington; and Steven Haddock, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. A workshop will take place in the afternoon for educators seeking resources to incorporate evolution in extreme environments into their classrooms. Conference registration is required to attend the symposium and workshop. Visit the NABT conference website for information on conference registration: www.nabt2009.org. To learn more details about the symposium and workshop, visit the AIBS website: www.aibs.org/special-symposia

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Get Involved in Year of Science!

Although the academic year may be coming to a close, the Year of Science is just warming up! During the summer months, celebrate oceans and water (June), astronomy (July), and weather and climate (August). There are a number of ways to engage your students in the activities:

  • Name a species: During the first 10 days of June, students will have the opportunity to name a new species of jellyfish! This is a great way for students to learn more about how species are named, become familiar with a jellyfish, and participate in science. Go to www.yearofscience2009.org/themesoceanwater/general/jellyfish.html to learn more about this contest.

  • Combine art and science: Tell an entire science story in art and text on a single 8½ x 11 sheet of paper folded to make a mini-magaZine and win one of 36 prizes. Go to www.yearofscience2009.org/about/zine-contest.html to learn more about Zines.

  • Enter an oceans photo and art contest: No matter where you live, your life depends on a healthy ocean. Show us what a day without the ocean would be like by sending a digital image and caption, explaining your thoughts. Visit www.yearofscience2009.org/themesoceanwater/celebrate/ to learn more.

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Teaching about Emerging Infectious Diseases

With over 100 deaths now reported worldwide, the H1N1 swine flu virus continues to generate interest among students and their families. Visit ActionBioscience.org, AIBS’s online resource of peer-reviewed articles on issues in biology, for information on pathogens relevant for educators who are looking to teach about the swine flu. In the section called “New Frontiers” are two interviews: one with Eddie Holmes, professor of biology at the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics at Pennsylvania State University, on “The Evolution of Emerging Viruses”; and one with Stephen S. Morse, director of the Center for Public Health Preparedness, at the Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University, on “Emerging and Reemerging Infectious Diseases: A Global Problem.” There is also an article, “Airborne Disease Control,” by author Wladyslaw Jan Kowalski. Go to www.actionbioscience.org/newfrontiers and look under “Global Threats” to find these articles and interviews and to learn more and get involved.

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NABT's BioBlog: Talking about Biology Teaching

The National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) recently launched BioBlog (www.nabt.org/blog), a forum for multiple authors to share tips and techniques, interact with colleagues near and far, and comment on issues relevant to biology teaching. Topics addressed thus far include the use of Data.gov in the classroom, species web cams, talking with students about cancer, and education sessions at the upcoming World Stem Cell Summit. Visit the site or sign up to receive RSS feeds to hear what teachers are doing in the classroom, view comments from your peers, and share your own thoughts on topics relevant to your profession.

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NESCent's Evolution Speaker Series

NESCent is collaborating with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and North Carolina State University’s Keck Center for Behavioral Biology to celebrate all year with a series of five distinguished speakers. The series kicked off February 12th—Darwin’s 200th birthday—with Carl Zimmer, a science writer known for writing about evolution. Rob Dunn, assistant professor of zoology at NCSU and author of Every Living Thing, followed in the spring. Anne Yoder, director of the Duke Lemur Center and professor of biology at Duke, will speak on July 9th. Dale A. Russell, geologist and senior curator of paleontology at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and research professor emeritus at NCSU, will speak on September 29th. Russell was the first to suggest an extraterrestrial cause for the extinction of the dinosaurs. Finally, Paul Brinkman, a curator and research assistant professor at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and NCSU, and author of A Triceratops Hunt in Pioneer Wyoming: The Journals of Barnum Brown & J. P. Sams, will close out the series on November 24th, the 150th anniversary of the publication of On The Origin of Species. If you cannot participate in person, each of the talks is available for online viewing at www.nescent.org/news/speakers.php.

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NCEAS Call for Proposals

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, center fellows (sabbatical visitors), postdoctoral associates, and distributed graduate seminars. 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 stimulates cultural shifts in collaboration, synthesis, and education and promotes the analysis and synthesis of scientific data across many ecology-related disciplines. Projects range across the core areas of ecology and into many adjacent disciplines, including economics, the sociology of science, and informatics. The center’s work is based on the use of existing data and information and does not support field or laboratory research. For additional information and application instructions, visit: www.nceas.ucsb.edu/rfp or email NCEAS at proposal@nceas.ucsb.edu. The next deadline for applications is July 13, 2009.

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EarthTrek Research Projects Going Live

EarthTrek, a global citizen scientist project run by the Geological Society of America’s education and outreach group, is going to go live with its research projects in July. If you and/or your students are interested in participating, the database will be ready for people to sign up as volunteers at the start of June. On the first of July two global projects will start. The first is a garlic mustard field survey, and the second is a gravestone project. EarthTrek continues to search for scientists interested in working with GSA to get a project of their own started, and in finding organizations that may be interested in sponsoring the program. Visit www.goearthtrek.com to learn more and sign up to participate.

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ChloroFilms' Plant Life Video Contest Results

ChloroFilms, a nonprofit project supported by the Education Foundation of the American Society of Plant Biologists, recently held a contest “to promote the creation of fresh, attention-getting and informative video content about plant life and to make the best of these videos easy to find from a single website.” Review panels judged the entries this spring, and now the winning videos have been announced: They include Fertile Eyes, Fantastic Vesicle Traffic, and a series on The Carnivorous Syndrome in 3D. Visit www.chlorofilms.org to view the winning videos and to learn more about this contest, which may repeat this fall.

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Science Prize for Online Resources in Education (SPORE)

AAAS’s Science magazine is currently accepting nominations for projects that publish free and innovative online teaching resources that align with the National Academies’ recommended strands of science learning. “Winning projects should reinforce one or more of the four strands of science learning recommended by the National Academies (Taking Science to School: Learning and Teaching Science in Grades K-8 [2007], National Academies Press; see also Bruce Alberts, ‘Redefining Science Education,’ Science 23 January 2009: 323, 437; www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/323/5913/437) and be consistent with the science education standards published by the National Academies (National Science Education Standards [1996], National Academies Press) and the AAAS (Benchmarks for Science Literacy; www.project2061.org/publications/bsl/online/index.php).” Winners will receive the Science Prize for Online Resources in Education (SPORE) and will have the opportunity to write an article about their project to be published in Science in 2010. To see the rules of eligibility and information required for nominations, visit: www.sciencemag.org/feature/data/prizes/spore/index.dtl. The deadline for nominations is June 30, 2009.

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New in BioScience: "The Creationist Down the Hall"

In the May 2009 issue of BioScience, Randy Moore and Sehoya Cotner, both of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, describe results of their research in “The Creationist Down the Hall: Does It Matter When Teachers Teach Creationism?” An excerpt from the article follows, and the complete article is available in BioScience at www.bioone.org/toc/bisi/59/5.

“In this study, we have—for the first time—empirically determined how the treatment of evolution and creationism in high-school biology courses is associated with (a) whether students major in biology or other disciplines, and (b) students’ ideas about evolution and creationism when they enter college. We wanted to answer several questions: Are incoming biology majors more or less likely to accept evolution or creationism than are nonmajors? Are incoming biology majors more likely to have been taught evolution or creationism in their high-school biology courses than were nonmajors? How are biology majors’ and nonmajors’ views of evolution and creationism associated, if at all, with the treatment of these topics in their high-school biology courses?”

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How Can We Improve the AIBS Education Report?

AIBS will continue to run the online survey through the summer to learn from the user community how best to tailor the information in these education reports. Thus far, responses have indicated that we should continue as we have been in terms of both content and delivery method. If you would like to provide input, please visit www.aibs.org/education/survey.html and respond to the quick five-question survey. If you are interested in providing email comments directly to AIBS staff, contact Susan Musante at smus@aibs.org with your thoughts.

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Upcoming Conferences, Events, and Workshops

June 2009-May 2010—BSCS Science Institutes, Colorado Springs, CO, and online. The Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) is offering six week-long, inquiry-based science institutes starting in June for elementary and secondary science teachers. Institute topics include “Scientific Inquiry,” “Literacy and Science,” and “Content Deepening Series for Elementary Teachers.” All institutes will immerse participants in both indoor and outdoor activities, and the learning experience continues past the end of the face-to-face institute. Each participant will have online access to a continuing education program and support during the school year, which will provide opportunities to reflect with other participants on the integration of the institute content and approaches and review student work, practices, and interactions. For details about the institutes’ topics and dates, please visit www.bscs.org/si or contact Sam Spiegel at sspiegel@bscs.org.

June 9-13, 2009—Association for Biology Laboratory Education Conference, Newark, DE. The 31st annual Association for Biology Laboratory Education (ABLE) conference will take place at the University of Delaware. The conference attendees participate in hands-on workshops that prepare them to use laboratory exercises with their own students. For more information, visit www.ableweb.org/conf/conferences.htm.

June 12, 2009—Evolution 101: Evolution and Biogeography Workshop, Connor Museum Washington State University, Pullman, WA. This workshop, held in association with EVOLUTION 2009, a joint annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Evolution, the Society of Systematic Biologists, and the American Society of Naturalists, will include presentations by evolutionary biologists about their research in this field, hands-on demonstrations of resources and materials to effectively teach biogeography and evolutionary biology, and discussions on improving evolution education. Registration includes full participation in the EVOLUTION 2009 meeting, and teachers are invited to attend the scientific sessions, symposia, keynote presentations, picnic, and poster sessions to be held at the University of Idaho, including the evolution education symposium and the public outreach lecture by Gould Award recipient Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education. For more information, visit www.uiweb.uidaho.edu/evolution09/workshops.html or contact Kristin Jenkins at kjenkins@nescent.org.

July and August, 2009—BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium Events. Multiple BioQUEST events will be taking place this summer. A workshop, “Creating Case Based Curriculum at the Intersection of Biology and Mathematics,” will be held at Emory University Center for Science Education, Atlanta, GA, July 21-25. A PEER workshop, “Using Bioinformatics in Biological Problem Solving,” will be at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, August 3-7. And the “Faculty Quantitative Institute” will take place at Oakwood University in Huntsville, AL, August 10-11. For more information, visit the BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium’s website at http://bioquest.org.

September 25-26, 2009—Annual Conference on Case Study Teaching in Science, Buffalo, NY. This two-day conference provides science faculty the opportunity to hear plenary talks and participate in a poster session and break out groups to learn how to teach with case studies and write their own cases. There are tracks for both beginners and veterans of case studies. Go to http://ublib.buffalo.edu/libraries/projects/cases/conference/conference.html for further details.

October 8-10, 2009—ACUBE’s 53rd Annual Meeting, Kansas City, MO. The Association of College and University Biology Educators annual meeting will take place at Rockhurst University. The meeting provides an opportunity for those who teach biology at the undergraduate and graduate levels to share ideas and best practices through presentations, workshops, and informal networking. Details will soon be available at www.acube.org.

October 15-18, 2009—SACNAS National Conference, Improving the Human Condition: Challenges for Interdisciplinary Science, Dallas, TX. The 36th annual Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) conference will offer participants the opportunity to “explore how new and original research across disciplines advances our knowledge in all aspects of the human condition and provides solutions to problems and limitations impacting human potential.” Go to www.sacnas.org/confnew/confclient for further details.

November 11-14, 2009—National Association of Biology Teachers Professional Development Conference, Denver, CO. Join others who teach biology in middle and high school as well as at two and four year institutions for NABT’s 2009 professional development conference. In addition to the many concurrent sessions, workshops, plenaries, and social events, AIBS and NESCent will once again cosponsor a symposium on evolution, and there will be a session on ActionBioscience.org. More information is available at www.nabt2009.org.

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