The Michigan Science Teachers Association held their 59th Annual Conference, Pure Michigan Science, in Lansing March 8-10, 2012 and a number of BEACONites attended, informing regional teachers about the exciting educational programs in development across our consortium.
The BEACON Exhibit highlighted games and software being developed to help teach basic and advanced evolutionary concepts in the K-16 classroom. Melissa Kjelvik, a graduate student working with Drs. Getty, Hayes, and Soule, told teachers about the Lady Bug and Aphid game developed by Terence Soule from the University of Idaho. Melissa shared lessons she is developing for the K-5 classroom. Teachers also interacted with two EvoAPPS, Variation and Selection. A collaboration between Stephen Thomas and Adventure Club Games, these games were designed for museum kiosk interactions, and specifically target common misconceptions and work to clarify how variation and selection are requirements for evolutionary change. Amy Lark, a graduate student working with the Avida-ED team, told teachers about this digital platform, showing the advantages of working with a program that shows evolution in action, and where students can carry out their own experiments.
In addition to the BEACON exhibit, Wendy Johnson, a teacher at Lansing Catholic, and part of the RET program through the College of Engineering last summer, gave a workshop on her use of Avida-ED in AP Biology. The high school teachers attending her workshop showed great enthusiasm for and interest in Avida-ED. The meeting room was over capacity and the participants were very engaged, and perhaps more importantly, excited about being able to give their students the opportunity to observe and test evolution in action rather than just lecturing. We anticipate holding a longer workshop for science educators in late August here at BEACON!