The 2000 Beloit College/Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Summer Institute for Teachers

Making Sense of Biological Problems
at a Molecular Level

A problem posing, problem solving approach to teaching biology in the high school

July 10 - July 21, 2000
Beloit College, Beloit, Wisconsin 

Participants in the Beloit College/ Howard Hughes Medical Institute Summer Institute will have the opportunity to examine the role of molecular sequence and structure data in addressing a variety of biological problems (e.g., species conservation, understanding the history of life on earth, health and disease). As more and more biological research takes advantage of the vast amounts of publicly available molecular data it is important that students have opportunities to use this data to understand and solve problems. Participants will have the opportunity to collaboratively develop interdisciplinary, problem-solving curricular materials for use in their classrooms. You do not need to have extensive background knowledge in molecular biology to participate.

We will use computer tools, table top activities, and a samplings of laboratory work to understand how to interpret molecular data and apply these resources to solve a wide range of biological problems including forensic medicine, DNA fingerprinting, genomics of strains of flu, creating genetically modified organisms for environmental and agricultural use, and phylogenetic analysis of organisms. Institute participants will also be introduced to a variety of computer based simulations and analysis tools from The BioQUEST Library. One of the primary resources that we will use is a web-based suite of bioinformatics tools called the Biology Workbench. The Biology Workbench provides very efficient access to databases, analysis and visualization tools through your web browser on any computer linked to the internet. Each of the field, lab and computer based activities will emphasize the use of an open-ended problem solving approach to solving biological problems.

Biological questions that will be addressed include:

  • Is there a molecular definition of a species? How might this be used in conjunction with other information to make conservation decisions?
  • How to assess microbial diversity when it is so difficult to culture and grow most organisms in isolation?
  • Why are pharmaceutical companies so interested in single nucleotide polymorphisms? How might a detailed understanding of sequence variation lead to individualized medicine?
  • How is DNA sequence data used to identify individuals? Can the same principles be used to trace the paths of infectious diseases?
  • Where will we go for the raw material to continue to alter food crops?

Credits: Teachers who complete this course will receive 4 graduate credits from Beloit College. Credits will be awarded for 2 courses: "A Problem-Solving Approach to Teaching and Learning in Science," and "Topics in Science Education: Bioinformatics."

Costs: Tuition, room and board for 12 days and educational materials are covered by a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. You will be expected to cover your own travel expenses to Beloit, Wisconsin. Beloit is located on the Wisconsin/Illinois border just off of I90 and is conveniently connected by the Van Galder bus service to O'Hare Airport and the Amtrack station in Chicago.

To apply, please send your resume and a letter of interest including the following information:

  • What courses do you currently teach?
  • How have you been involved in problem-posing/ problem-solving teaching?
  • In what ways will you share curriculum approaches and materials you've learned at this workshop with other colleagues?

Send Application to:

Professor Sam Donovan
Department of Biology
Beloit College
Beloit, WI 53511

Fax: 608-363-2052

Applications are due April 1, 2000
[EMAIL and FAX applications are acceptable]

Be sure to include the name of your school, the school's address, and a phone number and e-mail where you can be reached. Applications that are received after the application date will be handled on a space-available basis.

Materials from last year's workshop including teacher projects.

Beloit College Biology Department