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Vol. LXII, No. 16
August 6, 2010
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Program Seeks Volunteers
‘Adventures in Biology’ Begins This Fall

Adventures in Biology, a series of evening lectures at NIH for high school students, will begin its first season this October and is seeking volunteer teachers from the NIH staff. The program will explore selected topics in biology that are not covered in the usual high school curriculum. Each week, a guest scientist will discuss a topic of current research interest. The goal of AIB is not just to present science facts, but to introduce students to the process and drama of scientific discovery.

AIB will be administered as a 4H program and is not sponsored by NIH, although NIH supports its educational goals. “Science education is part of the mission of NIH,” says Dr. Bruce Fuchs, director of NIH’s Office of Science Education. “Although Adventures in Biology may only reach students who already have a significant interest in science, it’s important to nurture that interest. We support the goals of this program and may learn some lessons from it that might be applicable on a wider scale.”

“Too many high school biology programs suck all the pleasure out of learning by requiring memorization of long lists of scientific facts,” said Dr. Edward Max, one of the organizers of AIB. “In my daughter’s first biology course, she had to memorize a long list of cell organelles, most of which she never heard about again. She was never exposed to the detective work of designing experiments to answer scientific puzzles. You could hardly expect to instill a love of literature by requiring students to memorize lists of book titles, authors and plot summaries and you can’t inspire a love of science without showing the fun of discovery.”

The program is looking for volunteer teachers who would enjoy teaching about biological problems that were solved by exciting scientific detective work and who believe that presenting a memorable and entertaining scientific lecture is an art form worthy of investing preparation time. The lectures should also address biology’s everyday role in society by including any implications of scientific discoveries for medicine and science policy.

“We won’t be disappointed if our students come away from a lecture without remembering every scientific detail,” said Dr. Juhong Liu, who is the other leader of Adventures in Biology. “But we want them to be convinced that finding things out is fun and that science is not a mysterious and remote process, but a kind of organized common sense that they can understand.”

Interested in volunteering? Contact Liu (juhong.liu@fda.hhs.gov) to learn more about topics planned for the course and the format for the lectures.

Students interested in attending the program should contact Eric Keen at bccrhp@gmail.com to receive enrollment information. NIHRecord Icon

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