BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium

Summer Workshop for Undergraduate Faculty


June 19 - 27, 1999

Evolution: Laboratory, Field, and Computer Investigations

College, University, and Community College
Faculty Development Workshop

The next BioQUEST Curriculum summer workshop will focus on evolution education. Participants will consider the role of an evolutionary perspective in teaching and learning across biology content areas, examine ways to incorporate evolutionary problem solving into a variety of course settings, and work with computer tools, lab investigations, and field experiences that promote active investigations of evolutionary phenomena. One goal of this workshop is to stimulate the application of this knowledge to the design of curriculum and instruction in undergraduate biology.

The workshop will be held June 19 - 27, 1999 at Beloit College located near the border between Wisconsin and Illinois.

Participants will have the opportunity to experience, as a student would, the use of research strategies to pose and explore evolutionary problems. These investigations will be built around the use of existing BioQUEST modules and materials developed as part of new collaborations.

One of the BioQUEST modules that will be highlighted during the workshop is BIRDD, Beagle Investigations Return with Darwinian Data. This new module, first released on Volume V of the BioQUEST Library, contains a large collection of data on the Galapagos Islands and Darwin's Finches found there. This "digital library" provides information ranging from island names, maps, vegetation zones and weather, to summaries of finch taxonomy, song recordings, DNA sequences, and measurements of over 650 specimens. These resources are organized in a database that is easy to navigate, view, and print. Most importantly, users can (and should) export the data to other software tools for analysis.

The BIRDD module is an important resource for engaging students in more active approaches to studying evolutionary phenomena. It provides a rich collection of raw data representing a wide range of factors that evolutionary biologists may use to study the finches. Instead of being limited to demonstrations of evolutionary phenomena, students take on the role of a biologist-identifying patterns, postulating relationships, and collecting and analyzing data to support their claims.

Workshop participants will also have the opportunity to work with the Biology Workbench, a web based suite of molecular sequence and structure analysis tools. This is part of a promising new collaboration between BioQUEST and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. The Biology Workbench allows anyone with a web browser to rapidly search an extensive set of databases and use a variety of current analysis tools from a single integrated "point and click" interface. From comparing sequences of nucleic acids or amino acids in order to identify patterns and homologies to searching large databases to find similar structures, these tools are powerful resources for addressing evolutionary problems from a molecular perspective

Providing students with the tools to explore molecular data about the relationships between groups of organisms allows them to actively apply their understanding of evolution to solving problems. The richness of the tools and data available through the Biology Workbench interface help students experience the ways that researchers must define very specific questions and then make decisions about the type of analysis that will best address those questions. The analysis of molecular data is changing both the types of questions that are being asked and the ways that they are being answered. Bioinformatics experts and novices alike will explore how these rich and robust research tools can be brought to our classrooms to promote the use of an evolutionary perspective in solving real problems.

To apply to the BioQUEST summer workshop, please send a letter of application answering the following questions. Be sure to include your e-mail address and telephone number as well as your mailing address.

1. Have you used or reviewed any software published in volumes I-V of The BioQUEST Library?


2. What courses have you taught or are currently teaching?


3. Are you currently using lab, field or software investigations on the topic of evolution with your students? Describe briefly.


4. What objectives for your evolution curriculum are you planning to pursue by attending this workshop? Please share any specific concerns and/or resources you feel would help address the workshop topic.


5. How do you anticipate sharing what you have learned at this summer workshop with colleagues?


6. Will you be needing travel support to attend the workshop?


Mail, e-mail or fax your application for the following deadlines:

February 15, 1999 (early acceptance will be made March 1)

April 15, 1999 (acceptance will be made May 1)


The BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium
Department of Biology
Beloit College, Box 181
700 College Street
Beloit, WI 53511


fax: 608-363-5052

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