SENCER eNews Features IC-bGer, Caralyn Zehnder

Scroll down to read about Caralyn’s project with biology graduate students teaching labs. Way to go, Caralyn!

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Science Friday Hosts Inspire Symposium ParticipantsIra Flatow A highlight of the 2012 Washington Symposium and Capitol Hill Poster Session, which concluded on Tuesday, were talks by Science Friday host Ira Flatow and multimedia editor Flora Lichtman. Flatow focused on the rediscovery of science by kids and young adults, and how these topics are gaining more attention in social media, science fairs, and by the administration, which is now inviting science fair winners to the White House. At the same time, there is still a vast need to improve the basic science literacy of the public through informal or formal education, and challenges in communicating science topics given Flora Lichtmanthe political and social climate.

Lichtman, who has addressed various topics at the past two symposia, took this opportunity to discuss how she translates the topic and tone of the radio show into videos described on the air and posted to the show’s website. She focused on principles for engaging a diverse audience in science topics, and shared another Science Friday initiative, the Desktop Diaries series, with the group. The Desktop Diaries literally explores the desk – and workspaces – of some of the many guests on Science Friday, and in doing so, reveals a glimpse into guests’ histories and personal interests. You can access the Desktop Diaries on the "Science and the Arts" page. More stories on the Symposium, as well as links to participant posters, will be featured in the next issue of the eNews.

Western Network Hosts Organizational Meeting
As mentioned in the last eNews, NCSCE recently received a grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation to promote, support and sustain college-level science education reform in the western region of the United States. Last week, leaders of the initiative met in San Jose, CA, to coordinate efforts and plan network building activities to be conducted over the next two years. Present at the meeting were WestNet leaders Larry Duffy (University of Alaska Fairbanks), Douglas Latch and Lindsay Whitlow (Seattle University), Amy Shachter (Santa Clara University), Steven Bachofer (Saint Mary’s College), Garon Smith (University of Montana), Gary Booth (Brigham Young University), Robert Franco (Kapiolani Community College), and Richard Sheardy (Texas Woman’s University). NCSCE staff David Burns (PI), Amanda Moodie (Network Coordinator), and Danielle Kraus Tarka (Associate Director) joined the group with the meeting facilitator, Jonathan Bucki, evaluator, Stephen Carroll, and social media consultant, Janet Fouts. As part of the WestNet initiative, partners will make extensive use of social media and software to facilitate connections between in-person meetings. More information on the WestNet can be found here.
This article is part of a series focusing on campus initiatives by team recipients of SENCER post-Institute implementation awards.
Biology Graduate Students SENCERize Undergraduate Science Labs at Georgia College
Georgia College Lab By Caralyn Zehnder

Each year at Georgia College approximately 320 undergraduates, largely non-science majors, enroll in our Introduction to Environmental Science course. In 2009, we were awarded a SENCER sub-award to help facilitate SENCERizing the lab component of this course. The main goal for this project was to develop and implement a lab-designing workshop for biology graduate students in which workshop participants would design new labs for Introduction to Environmental Science. Eight biology graduate students took part in the year-long workshop. Workshop activities focused on goal-writing, active learning strategies, assessment, and review of their actual labs. Our graduate students designed three new SENCERized labs focusing on groundwater, air pollution and solar energy. Graduate student groups worked extremely hard and designed very high quality labs. One of the groups even purchased lab supplies and tried out the lab on their own in order to make sure that it really worked. These labs were reviewed by workshop participants, undergraduate environmental science majors, science faculty and members of the Innovative Course building group.

Undergraduate environmental science majors also took part in the lab redesign process. Before the workshop began, freshmen environmental science majors brainstormed to develop ideas, topics, and activities for interesting and engaging lab experiences. After the labs were written, a number of our students helped to test drive the new labs. Additionally, these students assisted in setting up a field site that the environmental science labs will be visiting to collect groundwater data. The students installed piezometers (wells used to measure groundwater) at a nearby wetland and also produced a map of the wetland for use in the class. This semester is the first time that we have implemented some of the new labs in our environmental science course. We are assessing student learning and we plan to continue revising the course based on student-feedback and our assessment results.

Upcoming Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Workshop at Texas Woman’s University The scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) has been described as inquiring into our students’ learning. But what does that look like in real life? How does this work to help make teaching public and community property? How is SoTL different from just being a good teacher? How does this form of scholarship connect to the concerns of faculty?

On April 14, Texas Woman’s University will offer a free SoTL workshop led by Dr. Matt Fisher. Fisher is a faculty member at Saint Vincent College and Carnegie Scholar, the SENCER Scholarship of Teaching Learning (SOTL) Coordinator, and Senior Fellow of the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement. Workshop participants will develop an understanding of important characteristics of the scholarship of teaching and learning, as well as a collection of information, tools and resources for engaging in this work for their own professional development. Participants will have the opportunity, as part of the workshop, to begin developing a question they want to investigate and learn what evidence would be appropriate to gather as part of their project.

There is no fee to participate, but we do need to plan supplies and food. Please pre-register by requesting a registration form from SCISouthwest. Registrations forms are due by Monday, April 2, 2012. A continental breakfast and lunch will be provided.

NSTA Press Preparing New Book on Citizen Science: Submit Your Work

NSTA welcomes submissions for possible inclusion in an upcoming publication that aims to inspire middle and high school teachers to use citizen science projects as a way of teaching life science content and process skills. The focus of the book is "Birds, Butterflies, Bullfrogs and Beyond: Bring Biology to Life through Citizen Science." To be eligible, lessons will need to (1) use one or more web-accessible citizen science projects (which could include collecting and entering data and/or using data outputs provided on the project’s website, (2) relate to biology and life science content or process skills, (3) be suitable for use in middle or high school science classes, (4) be inquiry-based (following the 5E instructional model is preferred; see the Submission Form for details). For more information, please visit

External Meeting Opportunity: Evolutionary Foundations for Medicine and Public Health
August 6-10, Bar Harbor, Maine Sponsored by the Mount Desert Island Biological Lab, this course will be limited to 40 participants. It will be appropriate for those with a background in biology and/or medicine at diverse levels. Special expertise in evolutionary biology is not required, however those who have already studied evolutionary biology will have specialized opportunities. In order to maximize benefits to this developing field, admission preference will be offered to physicians and professors who teach or anticipate teaching courses on the subject, and to members of minority groups who may be eligible for support from the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center. Researchers and students from advanced undergraduate to postdocs will be warmly welcomed. For more information on evolution and medicine, please visit

Job Opportunities

Chemistry Lecturer, Georgia College

Georgia College is hiring a chemistry lecturer to design innovative course materials for a studio lab environment for our introductory and general chemistry courses. We are hoping to get someone to make the best use of a very unique space that integrates lecture and lab. Learn more at

Program Directors, National Science Foundation

NSF Program Directors bear the primary responsibility for carrying out the agency’s overall mission to support innovative and merit-reviewed activities in basic research and education that contribute to the nation’s technical strength, security, and welfare. To fulfill this responsibility requires not only knowledge in the appropriate disciplines, but also a commitment to high standards, a considerable breadth of interest and receptivity to new ideas, a strong sense of fairness, good judgment, and a high degree of personal integrity.

The NSF is seeking qualified candidates for multiple positions as Program Directors in the Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE), Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR), Arlington, VA. Expertise is sought in one of the STEM disciplines, with particular interest in the areas of chemistry, engineering, and geosciences education. The successful candidates will have the ability to provide leadership across NSF and in the external scientific community.

EHR is responsible for programs that strengthen science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education at all levels and in all settings across the U.S. in order to support the development of a diverse, well-prepared workforce of scientists, engineers and educators who work to enhance the quality of life, health and prosperity of all citizens. The DUE within EHR focuses on the promotion of excellence in undergraduate STEM for all students. It supports programs and activities that develop and distribute effective pedagogy and educational materials, stimulate and support research on learning, promote scientific literacy, and foster connections across all education levels. Learn more at

Director of Teaching and Learning Center, Caltech

The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is a leading research university offering academic programs in science, engineering, humanities, and social science. A central feature of Caltech’s mission is "educating outstanding students to become creative members of society." To support this mission, Caltech is launching a new center for teaching and learning to promote excellence and innovation in teaching and to provide resources to students and faculty that enhance the educational experience both in and outside the classroom. We seek a founding director with a record of excellence in teaching, scholarship, and administration.

Reporting through the Office of the Provost, the director is responsible for providing vision and leadership in the development and operation of the new center. The director will work with an advisory committee to develop the center’s mission and to prioritize programs and services. Applications can be submitted through Caltech’s Human Resources Employment Services at Job posted on 2/17/2012. Open until filled.

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About Dr. J. Metzker

I believe in the power of a liberal education to transform individuals and society. I am currently the Executive Director of the Brown Center for Faculty Innovation and Excellence. Formerly, I led a community engagement initiative and held a full professorship in chemistry at a public liberal arts university. I am a proud product of The Evergreen State College.
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