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Education Report for July/August 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.

Symposium and Teaching Workshop on "Evolution in Extreme Environments"

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 website to register for the conference: www.nabt2009.org. To see the full symposium and workshop program, visit the AIBS website: www.aibs.org/special-symposia.

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Using Issues to Teach Biology

Educators interested in engaging students in issues in biology can look to ActionBioscience.org for teaching resources, especially if they would like to have students explore climate change, fisheries, estuaries, and biological controls. Author Michael J. Doughtery, education director of the American Society of Human Genetics, suggests that educators teach about the nature of science instead of attempting to tackle the controversy of climate change science in “Can Science Win Over Climate Change Skeptics?” (www.actionbioscience.org/education/dougherty.html). Stephen J. Walsh, Howard L. Jelks, and Noel M. Burkhead of the US Geological Survey in Gainesville, Florida, describe the crisis fishes of North America’s inland waters face in “The Decline of North American Freshwater Fishes” (www.actionbioscience.org/biodiversity/walsh.html). Robert R. Christian, of East Carolina University, illustrates how healthy estuaries are critical to humans and wildlife in “The Value of Healthy Estuaries” (www.actionbioscience.org/environment/christian.html). Finally, a new lesson engages students in field and inquiry activities about leafroller caterpillars while teaching about natural controls and pesticides (www.actionbioscience.org/biotechnology/miller.html#educator).

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New in BioScience: "You're Teaching, but How Do You Know They're Learning?"

AIBS Education Programs Manager Susan Musante writes about conceptual assessment tools for biology instruction in the July/August 2009 issue of BioScience. An excerpt from the article “You’re Teaching, but How Do You Know They’re Learning?” follows; the complete BioScience article is freely accessible through University of California Press Journals on Caliber (http://caliber.ucpress.net/doi/abs/10.1525/bio.2009.59.7.5) or on the AIBS website (www.aibs.org/eye-on-education/eyeoneducation200907.html).

“Although most instructors would like to believe that their students fully understand every biological concept explained in class, this is often not the case. Gary Wisehart, chair and professor of biology at San Diego City College, knows this from firsthand experience. ‘Students get very good at telling you what you want to hear,’ he says, ‘so it is important to assess the real impact you are having on students’ understanding.’ To do that, Wisehart has been using concept inventories, diagnostic tools designed specifically to uncover lingering misconceptions.”

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Opportunities for Support through the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS)

NIMBioS is a major initiative to foster interdisciplinary research at the interface between the mathematical and biological sciences. The institute’s mission is to cultivate cross-disciplinary approaches in mathematical biology and to develop a cadre of researchers who address fundamental and applied biological problems in creative ways. NIMBioS is sponsoring an array of activities to foster research and education at the interface between mathematics and biology. Activities include working groups, investigative workshops, postdoctoral fellowships, and visiting positions. Details are posted at www.nimbios.org. Requests for support are generally reviewed twice a year with deadlines of March 1st and September 1st. The deadline for activities beginning in March 2010 is September 1st 2009.

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BSCS in Search of High School and Middle School Field Test Teachers

BSCS is currently looking for high school and middle school teachers to serve as field testers for two new science education supplements, developed with funding from the National Institutes of Health. The middle school supplement, Rare Diseases and Scientific Inquiry, focuses on how scientists use scientific inquiry to learn about rare diseases and how learning about rare diseases helps us understand human systems. The high school supplement, Evolution and Medicine, focuses on how evolutionary principles inform medical practice and our understanding of human health and disease. To learn more about participating in either of these field test opportunities, please visit https://bscs.wufoo.com/forms/r7x2q5/ and complete the form. If you have questions, email or call BSCS Science Educator Paul Beardsley (pbeardsley@bscs.org; 719-219-4177) or BSCS Science Educator Mark Bloom (mbloom@bscs.org; 719-219-4167).

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Enhance Your Understanding and Practice of Evidence-Based Teaching

Biology faculty interested in enhancing their understanding and practice of evidenced-based teaching and learning are encouraged to apply for the residency opportunities in 2010. The residencies are part of the Biology Scholars Program, a multiyear leadership program funded by the National Science Foundation and managed by the American Society for Microbiology for college biology faculty to bring about reforms in undergraduate education. The program is based on three independent but intertwined virtual residencies: 1) Transitions Residency—application deadline February 1, 2010. The Transitions Residency, planned for 2010, seeks biologists who are transitioning from science education research to science education publishing. The 2010 Transitions Residency begins with the Transitions: Science Education Research to Publishing Institute, planned for June 14-17, 2010, in Washington, DC; 2) Research Residency—application deadline March 1, 2010. The Research Residency seeks biologists who are asking questions about the effectiveness of their teaching approaches. The 2010 Research Residency begins with the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Institute, planned for July 14-17, 2010, in Washington, DC; 3) Leadership Residency—coming in 2011. The Leadership Residency seeks biologists who are engaged in learning research and are ready to bring about changes locally on campus and nationally through their professional societies. For complete details, background information, and staff contacts, visit www.biologyscholars.org.

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EarthTrek: Operation RubyThroat

EarthTrek has a new project that began on July 1st called Operation RubyThroat: Hummingbird Project. Operation RubyThroat has existed since 1984 through a local outreach project in York, SC, and through GLOBE (www.globe.gov) to collect data on migration timing and nesting, but now through EarthTrek citizen scientists and students are able to contribute data. For complete details about getting involved in this new project, visit www.goearthtrek.org/ORT/ORT.html.

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The Encyclopedia of Life for Teaching and Learning

The Encyclopedia of Life (EOL; www.eol.org) is working towards making everything known about life available online through a rich collection of annotated content, including text, literature resources, maps, and images of organisms. Data available about each species includes “taxonomy, geographic distribution, collections, genetics, evolutionary history, morphology, behavior, ecological relationships, and importance for human well being.” This information is freely available to anyone and can be used as a reliable reference resource as well as a participatory teaching tool.

Classes can help build the EOL by uploading images to the EOL Flickr site (www.flickr.com/groups/encyclopediaoflife), using the commenting and tagging features or adding text on each species page. Undergraduate students can write species pages under the direction of their professors as part of a term project (www.eol.org/content/page/undergrad_init). EOL staff would love to know how you are using EOL for teaching and learning or what you need to get started. Either post on the EOL Education Forum (http://forum.eol.org) or contact them at education@eol.org.

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Your Input Needed for a New Exhibit at the Smithsonian

As part of its Human Origins Program, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History is developing an exhibit on human origins. Please take approximately 10 minutes to complete a survey to help educators there gauge your interest in this exhibit and your needs for materials and resources to support your students’ learning from it, whether you access it in person or online. The survey can be found at http://tinyurl.com/on49cw.

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National Science Foundation Releases "Science Nation"

Science Nation is a new video series showcasing scientific discoveries that impact human lives, created for the National Science Foundation by former CNN senior science producers. Tune in to watch these two-minute and five-minute programs to learn more about breakthroughs in scientific research on topics such as extremophiles, artificial retinas, Greenland ice cores, Emperor penguins, biofuels, and atom-thin nanofibers. Episodes are released every Monday and can be found at www.nsf.gov/news/specialreports/sciencenation/index.jsp.

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How Can We Improve the AIBS Education Report?

AIBS continues to run the online survey 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 (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 (sspiegel@bscs.org).

August 13-16, 2009—Annual MERLOT International Conference, Teaching and Learning in a Networked World, San Jose, CA. “The MERLOT International Conference is designed to foster learning, innovation and practice in the use of information, instruction, and communications technologies in higher education. It is a venue for educators, administrators, and technologists who have interests and expertise in technology-enabled teaching and learning and who recognize the need to remain current in this rapidly advancing field of educational practice and theory.” Go to http://conference.merlot.org/2009/ for details.

August, 2009—BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium Events. Multiple BioQUEST events will be taking place this summer. 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 24-27, 2009—9th Annual Lilly Conference on College and University Teaching, Traverse City, MI. The theme for this conference is Evidence-Based Learning and Teaching with four sub-themes: Engaged Learning, Promoting Social Responsibility, E-Learning, and Creating Communities of Learners. For complete conference details, go to http://lillyconferences.com/tc/default.shtml.

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. For further details go to http://ublib.buffalo.edu/libraries/projects/cases/conference/conference.html.

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. * October 22-25, 2009—ISSOTL 2009, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN*. Registration is now open for the sixth annual conference of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL). The conference theme is “Solid Foundations, Emerging Knowledge, Shared Futures.” For full conference details, visit http://issotl09.indiana.edu/.

October 23-24, 2009—Undergraduates in Biology and Mathematics Conference, NIMBioS, Knoxville, TN. The National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) will host the annual National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Interdisciplinary Training for Undergraduates in Biological and Mathematical Sciences (UBM) conference. It provides an opportunity for undergraduates to present their work in talks or posters, includes a panel discussion on career opportunities for students, and hosts the NSF UBM PI meeting. Plenary and featured speakers include Lisa Fauci, Tulane University, and Paul Super, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Faculty, students, and Tennessee teachers (grades 6-12) are invited to attend. To register, visit www.nimbios.org/education/UBM. To apply for support, register by September 9th; if no support is needed, the registration deadline is September 29th.

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. More information is available at www.nabt2009.org.

March 20-24, 2010—National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Philadelphia, PA. The theme of the 2010 annual international conference of NARST is “Research into Practice: Practice Informing Research” and will be held at the Philadelphia Downtown Marriott. For details, visit http://www.narst.org/annualconference/2010conference.cfm.

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