Project Statement

The Educational Grid (EdGrid) Biology Student Workbench (BSW) project is a growing collection of enhancements to the Biology Workbench including tutorials and inquiry-based materials, all of which help students and teachers conduct meaningful investigations in molecular biology. The project specifically addresses a pre-service teacher audience, and it supports the use of the inquiry-based learning and teaching approach to science education. The project objectives (which are inter-related) are to:

  • Develop inquiry-based bioinformatics curricula in collaboration and cooperation with the faculty and students in the teacher certification programs;
  • Integrate the curricula into science and math methods courses;
  • Disseminate the curricula nationwide;

The project differs from projects where some widely used technology (say, PowerPoint) is to be integrated into all teacher education courses.  For example, Biology Workbench is developed for use by scientists everyday. Tools such as Biology Workbench are changing how scientists (specifically biologists) do their work.  To facilitate student experiences in classrooms to reflect what biologists do, we have been pursuing a three-part agenda during the first year (October 2000 to October 2001) of this project.

First, we have been actively working to build a community of inquiry focusing on the bioinformatics. This community includes a diverse audience, such as teachers, teacher educators, and biologists. Second, we are actively building tools that support the creation and adaptation of inquiry units by any learner in our community. Third, we are actively organizing and participating in workshops where we invite learners in our community to collaborate and cooperate with each other to adapt and/or develop bioinformatics materials using the Inquiry page to facilitate integration into courses.

Through our project activities and interactions with people in the community, we are learning that there are different ways to integrate bioinformatics into K-12 and undergraduate curricula.  These include the preparation of web-based resources as well as workshops, presentations, papers, posters, and ongoing face-to-face and online interactions.

In the coming year, we will continue to expand the communities of participation and document the work and materials that are growing out of project activities.

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