Science education

Over the years, I've seen many biotechnology education programs at community colleges embrace outreach to high schools as part of their mission. This kind of enthusiasm for outreach seems unique to biotech. No other kind of science or engineering program seems to do this sort of thing, at least not on the nationwide basis that I've seen demonstrated in biotechnology. And yet, even though I've always admired and often participated in these efforts, some aspects are a little puzzling. How do the colleges reconcile the energy spent in outreach efforts with the energy spent ... Read more
Long Branch, NJ, is a lovely town on the Atlantic Ocean, with long beaches and brand new shops and condos. It is also part of an area in, central New Jersey, where biotechnology education is entering an exciting time thanks to efforts of NJBEC, Bio-1, and a WIRED grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. NJBEC, Bio-1, WIRED? What do all these acronyms mean? I get these things confused all the time, so I'll take a quick moment and explain. NJBEC is the New Jersey Biotechnology Educators Consortium. Bio-1 is a partnership between five counties and several schools in ... Read more
ScienceBlogs and science bloggers, in general, have enthusiastically supported fund-raising efforts by DonorsChoose for the past two years, and we're doing it once again for 2008. DonorsChoose works like this: teachers write descriptions of what they want and how they'll use it for teaching, and submit their proposals to DonorsChoose. We pick the projects we like and if you like them, too, you can help get these projects funded.
Donate to schools! Win a prize!
... Read more
I learned via e-mail yesterday that the biotechnology program, that I taught with for ten years during the 90's, is ending due to low enrollments. I also learned yesterday, via the Seattle Times, that a resurrected version of ICOS called CMC Icos Biologics is planning a $35M expansion of their biotech manufacturing plant in Bothell and talking about hiring lots of students with two-year degrees. The irony isn't lost on me. We struggled with variable enrollments too, when I was at Seattle Central ... Read more
HealthMap is a great site that could be an excellent resource when teaching a biology, microbiology, or health class. Not to mention, I can picture people using it before they travel somewhere or even just for fun. I learned about HealthMap awhile ago from Mike the Mad Biologist, but I didn't get time to play with the site until today. Here's an example to see how it works. How do I use HealthMap? ... Read more
One time, I suggested in a list-serve that science teachers make more use of primary scientific literature. Naturally, I learned all the reasons why teachers don't do this-lack of access being one of the biggies- but I also learned something surprising. One teacher wrote that she re-writes a lot of research articles to make them easier for her students to read. I can understand that notion, in principle. My students struggle with scientific language, too, even those that have bachelor's degrees in biology. What surprised me was thinking about the amount of time that activity ... Read more
This First Annual Conference for New Jersey Biotechnology Educators will be held on Saturday, Oct. 4th at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey. I'm excited about attending this conference, not only because of the biotechnology part, but because I've reading Sarah Vowel's book ... Read more
Calling all scientists and science-fans: you can help with science education by letting students know you're interested. How? Go and comment on classroom blogs and wikis. I've been gradually collecting some blogs from different classes and I've even had some brave volunteers offer theirs for review. So here goes:
  1. www.missbakersbiologyclass.com/blog
  2. Ms. Hoffman's AP class blog
  3. ... Read more
Let's play anomaly! Most of this week, I've written about the fun time I had playing around with NCBI's Blink database and finding evidence that at least one mosquito, Aedes aegypti, seems to have been infected at some point with a plant paramyxovirus and that the paramyxovirus left one of its genes behind, stuck in the mosquito genome. During this process, I realized that the method I used works with other viruses, too. I tried it with a few random viruses and sure enough, I found some interesting things. You've got a week to give it a try. Let's see ... Read more
Do mosquitoes get the mumps? Part V. A general method for finding interesting things in GenBank This is the last in a five part series on an unexpected discovery of a paramyxovirus in mosquitoes and a general method for finding other interesting things. In this last part, I discuss a general method for finding novel things in GenBank and how this kind of project could be a good sort of discovery, inquiry-based project for biology, microbiology, or bioinformatics students. I. The back story ... Read more

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