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Education

EDUCATION FORUM

July/August 2002

Compiled and edited by Gary Kuleck, Biology Department, Loyola Marymount University, 7900 Loyola Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90045.

ASPB Exhibits at MIST Career Fair

The ASPB Education Foundation sponsored an exhibit at the llth annual Career Fair of the Minorities in Science and Technology (MIST) Network held April 30-May 2,2002, at The George Washington University in Washington, DC.

The three-day MIST career fair introduces middle school and high school ethnic minority students to careers related to science and technology by exposing them to a wealth of hands-on exhibits. More than 1,800 students, teachers, and parents participate in the career fair annually, with more than 30 scientific associations and corporations staffing booths and/or conducting workshops. Exhibitors included the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and the Central Intelligence Agency.

At the ASPB booth, ASPB member Robin Buell answered questions and described the different types of jobs available to those students interested in the field of plant science. When asked about future plans for college, many of the llth graders, who were either biology majors or taking advanced placement courses in biology, expressed an interest in attending medical school. Robin explained that research conducted by plant physiologists is very beneficial and that plant physiology is actually a sub-field of biology. In addition, Robin stated, "Plant scientists are involved in many different types of research that include the growth of plants for food, fuel, and, yes, even medicine."

When asked how and why the participants attend the Career Fair, one student from North Bend Elementary School in Baltimore stated, "It's fun! The exhibit hall is best because it shows me things that I never knew about." The parent of a sixth grader who attends Fallston Middle School in Baltimore told ASPB staff, "It's really wonderful! My son doesn't know what direction to go, so this is great to start at this age." Another student, who attends North Bend Elementary, described an experiment to ASPB staff that involved growing a plant with a kidney seed. "My sister grew a lima bean plant but it died! My experiment is to see if it can grow indoors."

Students, teachers, and parents expressed enthusiasm for The Plant Cell and Plant Physiology posters, the two-sided Principles of Plant Biology bookmarks, brochures about plant science studies, Principles of Plant Biology-Concepts for Science Education, and "The 'What's so cool about plants?' Cube," which was a huge hit, particularly among the students. For additional information on ASPB Education Foundation programs, visit www.aspb.org/education/foundation/programs.cfm or contact Katie Engen at katie@aspb.org

Virtual Reality

As part of its Education Programme, the Society for Experimental Biology (SEE; www.sebiology.org) held a very successful workshop on Virtual Learning during its annual main meeting in Swansea (Wales, UK) in April this year. Organized in collaboration with LTSN Bioscience (www.bio.ltsn.ac.uk), we were honored to welcome ASPB member Dr. John Markwell (University of Nebraska- Lincoln) as our plenary speaker. Formerly ASPB's Education Committee chair, John treated the audience to his extensive teaching experience by speaking on the subject of student learning. His theories on the dynamics of learning in the context of both traditional and virtual environments were very well received, as was his interactive style of delivery. A summary of the talk is published in the SEB Bulletin (July issue) and can also be seen at www.sebiology.org/bulletin/July2002.

Delivered by other experienced educators, the rest of the workshop talks focused on virtual learning and assessment methods. These were followed by two parallel hands-on sessions on e-tutoring, including the implications of widening access for disabled students. A wider range of posters on innovative teaching techniques was presented later in the day, with John Markwell's poster on the decay of web links receiving media attention from the New Scientist (April 13 issue). All the workshop abstracts are posted at http://bio.ltsn.ac.uk/NV/sebabstracts.htm, and some will also be published as full papers in the Journal of Biological Education later this year.


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