SLP Newsletter Summer 2014 – Week 4

In this week’s newsletter we have the following announcements:

1) Four UO representatives participated in the West Coast National Academies Summer Institute on Undergraduate Education at University of California, Riverside in June.
2) Teaching the interconnectedness of Biology and Physics- and how to make a lasting impact
3) Team teaching and collaboration between program pays off for students
4) Science Reporting course open to all science students
5) The Science Factory expands summer hours


1) Four UO representatives participated in the West Coast National Academies Summer Institute on Undergraduate Education at University of California, Riverside in June. 

Throughout the National Academies Summer Institute, they focused on applying research on how people learn to develop and create undergraduate science classroom activities. Following the completion of the program Michelle Wood (Professor of Biology), Ann Petersen (Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Institute of Ecological and Evolution) and Elizabeth “Tish” Toomey Wiles (Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Institute of Molecular Biology) have been named National Academies Education Fellows in the Life Sciences for 2014-15 and Eleanor “Elly” Vandegrift (Associate Director of the Science Literacy Program and Senior Instructor of Biology) has been named a National Academies Education Mentor in the Life Sciences for 2014-15.

The program included work in several areas that have been discussed in the Science Literacy Teaching Journal Club including: active learning, backward design, assessments, and flipped classes. To learn more about these topics, see our Active Learning Glossary and Bibliography by Topic web pages.

More information about the Summer Institute is available from UCR Today.

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2) Teaching the interconnectednessof Biology and Physics- and how to make a lasting impact

Two weeks ago we wrote about Raghuveer Parthasarathy’s recent class Physics 171, The Physics of Life

Just after the term ended, Raghuveer attended the Gordon Research Conference on Physics Research and Education. The meeting focused on the intersection of biology and physics and the development of new curricula and materials needed to bridge the gap in the way that biologists and physicists teach the nature of science. The UO META Center for Systems Biology, of which Raghuveer is a member, wrote about two prominent themes in the conference: randomness and modeling. Read META’s store here. Raghuveer presented a poster on his biophysics for non-science majors course, Physics 171 The Physics of Life. His work was well received, though it was his novel approach to the poster that seemed to catch everyone’s eye.

During the class, students had the opportunity to explore biomechanics and bone size to learn that large animals need disproportionately longer and wider bones compared to those of smaller animals. Usually the concept is illustrated with pictures of animal skeletons. This term, however, students were able to see actual elephant and dog femurs. Sometimes what we see as an important eureka moment doesn’t always register for others and course evaluations can shed light on what worked in a class and what did not. In his blog, Raghuveer Parthasarathy reflects on how bringing in the boned was highlight of teaching this class. After reading his course evaluations, he learned that the experience did not seem to make as big of an impression on his students as he expected. Next time, he might bring in an even larger bone. For further reading on the utility of evaluations, see our Bibliography by Topic web page.

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3) Team teaching and collaboration between program pays off for students

“Bread 101″ taught as a collaboration between the Science Literacy Program, Clark Honors College, and Food Studies program was featured in the Around the O recently. The interdisciplinary course was taught by Jennifer Burns Bright, Miriam Deutsch, Judith Eisen, Karen Guillemin, and Eleanor “Elly” Vandegrift focusing on the biology, chemistry, physics, history, culture, and politics of wheat and bread.

During the term, students had the opportunity to explore the course outside of the classroom. The group took two filed trips. First up was a trip to Noisette Pastry Kitchen where the students learn from bakers. Then the group traveled to Camas County Mill to learn from growers and millers. On display were several grain varieties including spelt, rye, emmer, teff, among others. The group also learned about the milling process and got to see their stone mill in action. tudents maintained a bread starter throughout the course and tried their hand at baking.

Putting theory to practice, students created and maintained a bread starter throughout the course and tried their hand at baking. Drawing on what they learned about the biological, chemical, and physical nature of the ingredients and baking process, students wrote about their experience experimenting with different conditions and recipes. Read more about how the course transformed the students’ and instructors’ thoughts about science, nutrition, and agriculture in the Around the O article.

Three of the faculty blogged about their experiences during the term as well.

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4) Science Reporting course open to all science students

J5/463 Topic: Reporting Science will be offered in Fall Term 2014. The course, open to journalism majors and undergraduate and graduate students in the natural sciences, will be taught by Jon Palfreman, KEZI Distinguished Professor of Broadcast Journalism. Admission to the course is by instructor consent. There are 16 slots.

This course is about reporting and communicating science. Working in teams and individually, students will report on scientific research going on at the U of O and OSU. During class time, we will host sessions with visiting scientists and celebrated science journalists, and share exemplary examples of science journalism.

Interested students should send a one-paragraph statement to Jon Palfreman (include ID number), detailing their academic history and reasons for taking this course.

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5) The Science Factory expands summer hours

Visit the Exploration Dome 7 days a week this summer!

Each weekday offers a presentation of Seasonal Stargazing at 1:30 p.m. and a featured Dome Shows of the Week at 2 p.m.  This is a great opportunity for your family to see an engaging variety of educational dome shows in the Science Factory collection. Visit every week to see them all.  There are additional viewing times on the weekend. Visit The Science Factory to see a complete schedule.

This Week:  Sea Monsters
July 5 – 11 @ 2 pm weekdays, 11 am, 1 pm, and 2 pm weekends // $4 admission (ages3 – 61), $3 seniors, $2 SF members
What lived in the water during the dinosaur age? Narrated by Liev Schrieber, “Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure” takes audiences on a remarkable journey into the relatively unexplored world of reptiles that lived beneath the water. Funded in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation, the film weaves together photorealistic animation with standout finds from paleontological digs around the world — treasures that shed light on the film’s incredible cast of characters. From fossil digs to larger-than-life visions of predatory chases in shallow seas, the film immerses audiences in a rarely explored environment during the dinosaur age.

Next Up:  Seven Wonders
July 12 – 18 @ 2 pm weekdays, 11 am, 1 pm, and 2 pm weekends // $4 admission (ages3 – 61), $3 seniors, $2 SF members
This 30-minute show invites audiences to turn back the pages of time and witness the ancient wonders of the world as they have not been seen for thousands of years. Seven Wonders investigates the theories of how these wonders were created, and then gives the audience a tour of what are considered some ofthe universe’s greatest wonders as well. Seven Wonders is produced by Evans & Sutherland Digital Theater and narrated by British actor Sean Bean, best known for playing Boromir in the feature film trilogy Lord of the Rings.

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