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September/October 2002

Compiled and edited by Sheila Blackman, Grand Valley State University, Biology, 1 Campus Drive, Allendale, MI 49401, email blackmas@gvsu.edu

Denver Roundup! Education Activities at Plant Biology 2002

ASPB Education Workshop: "K-12 Outreach"

ASPB president Vicki Chandler presented an award to Wisconsin Fast Plants developer Paul Williams at the K-12 education workshop for his work and ideas on making plants a part of the K-12 curriculum. Paul took the opportunity during his address to tell a personal story of how he became involved in Wisconsin Fast Plants, one of the most successful K-12 outreach programs ever. He made a strong case that the most effective outreach programs (in terms of numbers of students impacted) involve helping teachers teach science better. He attributes the phenomenal success of the Fast Plants program to a couple of factors: ongoing dialogue with the client (in this case, teachers) for userfriendly product support and feedback, and his energetic partner, wife Coe. Perhaps the greatest contribution to the success of Paul's educational projects is the infectious passion he brings to his work and instills in others.

Patricia Suchian, from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, described grants available for K-12 outreach in plant science (primarily the undergraduate program). Based on assessments by the undergraduate program and on national trends, program elements have varied a little over the nine years of program operation. The most recently awarded undergraduate grants support precollege and other outreach as well as activities that strengthen undergraduate education. More information on these and other programs is available at the HHMI web site (www.HHMI.org). The next undergraduate program competition is anticipated in 2004. Application for these grants can be made only after institutions receive invitations (issued in spring 2003).

Machi Dilworth, from NSF, summarized NSF strategies toward K-12 outreach. NSF is continuing its commitment to the recommendations contained in the most recent science indicators report (http://www.nsf.gov/sbe/srs/seind02/). These include moving toward more inquiry-di@Âcted learning and deeper (rather than broader) understanding in U.S. K-12 science classrooms. As a result, NSF is placing increasing emphasis on the broader impact of research and integration of research and education. Standard research grants now must address and will be evaluated partly on these issues. Research Experience for Teachers (RET) and Research Experiences for Undergraduates supplements to Current NSF Awards (NSF 02-102 and NSF 01-121) provide an opportunity for NSF awardees to integrate teaching into their research. The Research Experiences for Undergraduate site awards are also available for proposals focusing solely on undergraduate participation in research.

In addition, NSF has a number of initiatives targeted specifically at K-12 outreach. Many of these can be accessed at the NSF Directorate for Education and Human Resources homepage (http://www.ehr.nsf.gov/). Of note, NSF 02-042 (Graduate Teaching Fellows) awards money to institutions to give fellowships to graduate students or advanced undergraduate students so that they can enhance K-12 science education. NSF and the U.S. Department of Education launched the new Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program in fiscal year 2002, making $172.5 million available in an initial competition. A defining feature of the MSP program is that it is targeted at developing productive partnerships between school districts and institutes of higher education. Partnerships can also include others, such as state or tribal government agencies, science centers, museums, businesses, and community organizations.

Larry Griffing spoke on his work with the Texas A&M University Science Education Leadership Program. This program is a "partnership between the Colleges of Science and Education to prepare science education specialists with expertise in the use of information technology to do, learn, teach, and assess science." The program utilizes center project teams to connect current science research to classroom practices. It is supported with a grant from NSF.

ASPB Education Booth

This year, the ASPB booth hosted five energetic and dedicated exhibitors highlighting their work in plant science education. Two exhibits were award winners: Nature's Pharmacy: Fighting Bacterial Infections with a Seed (G. Ju and J. Bonina, ECHO, 17391 Durrance Road, North Ft. Myers, FL; http://www.echonet.org) and Using Topics in Plant Genetic Engineering to Develop Critical Thinking and Information Literacy Skills (J. Harrington, S. Ward, and P. Byrne, Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins). The latter project highlights an excellent web site on transgenic crops (http://www.colostate.edu/programs/lifesciences/TransgenicCrops/). This contains many resources, including a primer on plant biotechnology and links to resources that students can use to search for and critically appraise material on the risks and benefits of transgenic technology in agriculture.

Kenneth D. Nadler (Department of Plant Biology, Michigan State University) presented a demonstration of sample problems from his set of more than 200 problems for homework and examinations: Computer-Individualized Problem Sets for Introductory Plant Physiology (described in Artus and Nadler, Plant Physiol. 119: 1177-1186, 1999).

Dr. Peter V. Sengbusch (University of Hamburg) demonstrated "Botany online," a hypertextbook covering most major botanical topics. It is currently located at http://www.biologie.uni-hamburg.de/b-online/. The project contains texts, high-quality images, Chime scripts, and material from databases. It is now transferred to the LearningOnline Network with CAPA (LONCAPA; http://www.lon-capa.org/) at Michigan State University and will become part of NSF's National Science, Math, Engineering and Technology Education (SMETE) Digital Library. Peter's intention is to continue Botany online as a free archive of scientific knowledge for all learners and teachers in the field of plant biology. He is particularly interested in new contributors and those who would like to update the existing material. He is concerned, in the long term, about the editorial functions and oversight of growth of Botany online. If anyone is interested in contributing to this project, please contact Peter at b-online@botanik.uni-hamburg.de.

Dr. Dennis Valenzeno (University of Kansas, Medical Center), project director for the Digital Photobiology Compendium, demonstrated this online resource for teaching and learning photobiology. Dennis wishes to contact plant scientists interested in contributing subject modules to enlarge the existing compendium and also those interested in developing and overseeing a spin-off of the original compendium that deals specifically with plant science. Check out the digital photobiology web site (http://classes.kumc.edu/grants/dpc/) and contact Dennis (dvalenze@kumc.edu) for further information.

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