Friday, December 11, 2009

FoldIt: Protein Folding Game

Foldit is a challenging, fun, protein folding game. The number of different ways even a small protein can fold is astronomical because there are so many degrees of freedom. Figuring out which of the many possible structures is the best one is regarded as one of the hardest problems in biology today. Foldit attempts to predict the structure of a protein by taking advantage of humans' puzzle-solving intuitions and having people play competitively to fold the best proteins.

By playing the game, you also contribute to important scientific research. The Foldit team, from the University of Washington Departments of Computer Science & Engineering and Biochemistry, is collecting data to find out if humans' pattern-recognition and puzzle-solving abilities make them more efficient than existing computer programs at pattern-folding tasks. If this turns out to be true, Foldit can then teach human strategies to computers and fold proteins faster than ever!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tech Tools for Schools

Technology Tools for Schools Resource Guide provides definitions of key technology components and relevant examples, where appropriate as a glossary for educators. The guide also presents essential implementation and infrastructure considerations that decision makers should think about when implementing technology in schools. Technology
enhances administrative, teacher and student capabilities and performance, especially for those students who lack access to technology outside of school. Join the online discussion and share your examples at the supporting wiki.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Science Policy/Public Affairs Webinar

Communicating Science Primer: An AIBS policy staff publication that helps scientists better understand and work with reporters. Available at the AIBS bookstore.

Undergraduate and graduate students, as well as early career professionals in science, often contact the American Institute of Biological Sciences seeking information about alternate science careers. A growing number of individuals are interested in careers that allow them to apply their scientific skills to the resolution of societal problems. A common area of interest is science policy/government relations/public affairs. Public Policy staff of AIBS will host a 90-minute webinar on December 21, 2009, to:

- Provide information about employment options in science policy and public affairs;
- Provide tips to help interested students and early career professionals develop the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the policy/public affairs sector; and
- Help participants determine whether this career path is right for them.

To register, go to the webinar page.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Edublog Awards

Edublog Awards celebrate the achievements of edubloggers, twitterers,podcasters, video makers, online communities, wiki hosts and other web based users of educational technology. In order to nominate blogs for the 2009 Edublog Awards you have to link to them first! Nominations close Tuesday 8 December, 2009. Voting ends Wednesday 16 December, 2009. More information and entry form available here.

We've nominated the following sites:
- Technology: An Educational Issue?, nominated for Best Resource Sharing Blog
- Year of Science 2009 Twitter, nominated for Best Individual Tweeter
- Extreme Biology (a teacher and her classroom blog), nominated for Best Class Blog

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Student Copyright Awareness

Intellectual Vengeance is a film about plagiarism included in Lesson 1 of Creative Thinking. This resource unfolds with a student who deliberately plagiarizes a paper for another student, thus tarnishing his reputation.

Northern Kentucky University (NKU) has developed lesson plans and videos that teachers can use to teach students about plagiarism, copyright, and fair use. Tied to national and state educational standards, Creative Thinking offers engaging content for teens and young adults in multiple disciplines. It could also be used for public library teen programs and community youth groups. The lesson content promotes research honesty and copyright consciousness for students. Both ethical and legal discussions are presented.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Copyright-Friendly Wiki

Copyright Friendly is a wiki with links to copyright friendly images and sounds. You may not need to ask permission to use them when publishing them on the Web for educational purposes, but it's a good idea to check and to cite or attribute these resources to their creators. If you see any copyright notices on the source pages, read them for further instructions. There are also links to resources where you can create avatars, concept maps, graphs, and other graphics useful to teaching. If you need help in using copyrighted materials, consult the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Free Educator Webpages

Here are 10 places where educators can build and host their website for free. Note that signing up for an account is always free for the links below, but some providers offer the option to upgrade for a small fee.

1. SchoolRack: create a classroom website or educational blog for students, parents, and colleagues to visit.
2. Yola: free website builder, no matter how much content you add.
3. Webs: offers a wide variety of templates and layouts, good for novices.
4. Hipero: is rich in features and easy to use.
5. Web Node: easy website builder, simple enough for students with little tech experience to use.
6. Weebly: indexes your pages for easy navigation of visitor navigation.
7. Microsoft Office Live: free but your own domain name comes for a small annual fee.
8. Google Sites: set up a free Google account and get a web site builder.
9. Sauropol: publish blogs, image galleries, bulletin boards, document folders too.
10. SnapPages: the free basic service has enough features for class websites.

Photo: Screenshot of, created on SnapPages.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wish List? Tweet It

Richard Byrne, a social studies teacher in Maine, was able to attend the National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) in Washington, DC the summer of 2009, thanks in part to twitter and other online technology. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), which organizes the annual conference, launched the Newbie Project. It’s co-founder, Beth Still, used the power of Twitter to find enough people willing to donate $1 or more to send Byrne to NECC. Two weeks after Still announced the effort on her blog and began tweeting, several dozen people donated $750, enough to cover conference registration and airfare. Still continued her effort and eventually a technology company donated $700 to cover food and lodging for the newbie.

Byrne said in an interview, “Hopefully Beth’s project convinced people that the professional connections you make online can be just as meaningful as professional connections developed in person.” The Newbie Project is again fundraising via technology to send more first-timers to its 2010 conference in Denver, CO. (Photo: NECC 2009 Exhibitor's Hall, by Oksana Hlodan.)

Evolution Symposia Media

The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS), in conjunction with the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent), will again co-sponsor an evolution symposium at the 2009 National Association of Biology Teachers(NABT)professional development conference. The symposium will be held on Friday, November 13 in Denver, Colorado. "Evolution in Extreme Environments" offers presentations and a workshop on evolution in five extreme environments.

Those unable to attend this year's NABT conference will be able to participate in the symposium via live webcast on Friday, November 13th from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm, MST, for all or part of the webcast. For full program information and the link to view the live webcast, visit NESCent.

The presentations from previous symposia are available on the NESCent website. The presentations are movies of each speaker, both audio and visual of the scientists, synchronized with the slides from their PowerPoints. Teaching and learning resources and references related to the symposia are free for anyone to view and use. (The photo is the cover of a CD from the AIBS media library. It is not a supplement to this year's symposium.)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Interactive Tree of Life

The Wellcome Trust has created a visually-appealing, interactive tree of life where one can manipulate different views, see a trace of the lineage's path, and zoom in on particular animals. The site is called, simply, Tree of Life.

You can also download the Tree of Life video (as seen here) to view, share with friends, or post on your blog or website. Create your own version of the video with the site's remixable files.

Process of Science

How do we help students to gain not only content knowledge but also process knowledge, i.e., how we know what we know? There are online resources for integrating the process of science into your teaching at all levels, using a variety of different techniques.

VisionLearning provides information and activities for:

  • What is teaching the process of science?
  • Why should I teach the process of science?
  • How do I teach the process of science?
  • What are some examples for teaching the process of science?
The Process of Science website was created by educators at Carleton College, MN. The college also offers the site, The Science Education Resource Center, where more resources for science education can be found. (Photo: VisionLearning)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Understanding Science

The Understanding Science web site challenges educators to exploring the nature and process of science. You will find classroom activities, a K-16 conceptual framework, and tips and strategies for integrating the process of science into your curriculum.

In addition, the site offers case studies, interactive resources, checklists, and informative, short articles. Understanding Science is a fun, accessible, and free resource that accurately communicates what science is and how it really works.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Web Conversations

The Future of Education is a web site hosting a free-to-participate interview series and discussion community. This community is devoted to providing an opportunity for those who care about education to share their voices and ideas with others. It's a place for thoughtful discussion on an incredibly important topic. The site was started by the founders of Classroom 2.0, the social network for those interested in Web 2.0 and collaborative technologies in education. Classroom 2.0 is also a free, community-supported network, which not only holds live interviews but also live workshops.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Science Images Search

Searching the Internet for free science-related photos? is a license-specific photo search engine. Currently it indexes and searches millions of freely licensed photos, from many sources, and presents them in an integrated search. was launched in April 2006, and is owned and operated by Vibrant Software, located in Vancouver, Canada. Membership is free and allows you to rate, tag, collect and comment on photos. aims to become a leading portal for the stock photography community, and will be adding features and increasing the index over time. You can keep up-to-date with the engine's progress in their blog. (Solar System Montage system image from NASA found on

Ocean Gazing Podcasts

University of Washington oceanography professor John Delaney is featured on the first Ocean Gazing podcast .

The Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence Networked Ocean World (COSEE-NOW) has launched of a new biweekly podcast: Ocean Gazing. The podcasts investigate some of the ocean's secrets, for example: find out how to detect underwater earthquakes, take photos of some of the smallest ocean creatures, measure the ocean's temperature, and much more.

Each episode features a "Sonic Stumper," where we you call in or email your guesses. You can also subscribe to the podcast in iTunes using the following link.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Academic Earth Videos

Academic Earth, a social entrepreneurship venture focused on expanding the availability of high-quality educational opportunities for people around the globe, has launched This site offers free access to online video of full courses and guest lectures from leading educational institutions including Yale, Harvard, and MIT. The catalog of videos, spanning nearly all academic subjects, including biology, contains full courses and lectures. The videos are available through a clean, user-friendly interface that allows visitors to browse by subject, university, or instructor.

Podcast Resources

Podcasting is a technology that helps bridge the gap between content delivery and today’s “digital native” students. Podcasting is a method of making audio or video content available regularly via the Web. It blends topical research and knowledge collection with a radio- or TV-style presentation that’s perfect for the attention span and learning style of today’s students.

In The Educator's Podcast Guide, author Bard Williams begins with a complete introduction to podcasting, including hardware and software needs, integrating podcasts into your curriculum, and managing podcasts in the classroom. Williams then introduces a smorgasbord of education-related podcasts sorted by curriculum area. Part user manual, part curriculum planning tool, and part implementation survival guide, the book is an good resource for any educator who would like to integrate this exciting tool into the classroom.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Science Advocacy Tool

The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) has made it easy for you to become a science advocate. The organization's Action Center lets you send messages to your elected US officials to let them know how you feel about how their votes are affecting science. For example, you can find your Senator by simply entering your zip code and then thank your Senator for supporting science. You have the option of sending a prepared letter or crafting your own. You can also sign up for the action list and get an alert when your involvement can make a critical difference.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

BioQuest Investigative Cases

The Investigative Cases Center (ICBL) of the BioQuest Curriculum Consortium offers a variant of Problem Based Learning. Investigations are combined with technology, including software simulations and models, data sets, and internet-based tools. The investigative cases draw from realistic situations. Some examples of cases:

  • A Case of Mistaken Identity: ethical issues arise as an adopted sister is unable to donate blood.
  • Got Milk?: the presence of synthetic hormone in milk raises questions about biotech safety.
  • Kujira: a Japanese wedding leads to forensic testing of whale meat.
  • Murder by Atkins?: forensic chemistry to identify of a specific drug after a death.
  • The Hike: calculations and problem solving help trapped students survive.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

2009: Year of Science

The official Year of Science web site offers educational resources for many disciplines -- from astronomy to zoology. The site was launched to support public understanding of the process and nature of science in an exploration of "how we know what we know." Each month features a different scientific field, providing online and downloadable resources for educators, students, and the general public. There's also a calendar of events where visitors may find scientific events happening in their community.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Darwin Online

We celebrate the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin (1809–1882) this year. Educators will find a cornucopia of classroom activities online that illustrate Darwin's extraordinary life and achievements. The following are a few recommendations.

- About Darwin: View maps of the historical journey of the HMS Beagle and a timeline of Darwin’s journey and research data.
- AMNH exhibit: Discover the man and learn about his ideas in this interactive exhibit. Includes interesting videos.
- Darwin's writings: Links to online copies of all editions of Charles Darwin’s literature.
- Voyage of Discovery: Activities from PBS to teach about Darwin's great journey.
- "Endless forms most beautiful" webcast: In lecture one of a four part series, evolutionary biologist Sean Carroll discusses Darwin and his two most important ideas: natural selection and common ancestry.
- Darwin Special Issue: The journal Evolution Education and Outreach has free pdf downloads of its articles celebrating Darwin's birthday.

(Photo: AMNH Exhibit online)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Twitter for Educators

Twitter is a free service that lets you keep in touch with people through the exchange answers to a simple question. What are you doing? Where's the next workshop? Twitter has become a popular microblogging tool. It can be accessed a variety of ways, such as via the web or instant messaging services. Why is it useful for educators? Consider these possibilities:

1. Quick networking: Your one question may draw responses from a host of people quickly. If you have a relatively good number of fellow educators in your contact base, some of them are bound to be checking their twitterfeed when you pose your query.

2. Knowledge sharing: People are eager to answer questions because they can also learn from the shared experience. It's a quick way to find a URL to a classroom activity or information about an educational event, for example.

3. Track conferences: Twitter can help you stay on top of what's going on at conferences. If you can't attend one, someone may be tweeting about a session. Or, as often happens, you are at a conference but several great sessions are happening concurrently. A tweeter buddy can fill you in. To avoid multitasking during an important presentation, you can can check the conference tweeterfeeds later.

For more information and information, check out check out Twitter Fan Wiki. For a twitter application database rating, see twtbase.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Benefits of Social Networking

In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers at the University of Minnesota have discovered the educational benefits of social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook. The study found that, of the students observed, "94 percent used the Internet, 82 percent go online at home and 77 percent had a profile on a social networking site. When asked what they learn from using social networking sites, the students listed technology skills as the top lesson, followed by creativity, being open to new or diverse views and communication skills. What we found was that students using social networking sites are actually practicing the kinds of 21st century skills we want them to develop to be successful today." Watch videos to learn more about this study.