BASIC BIOTECHNOLOGY FOR BEGINNING TEACHERS
1993 Woodrow Wilson Biology Institute
"Where do I begin?" is often the first thing that comes to mind when teachers delve into unexplored territory. It is also easy for teachers to fall into a rut and not try new things due to a lack of time, energy, money, or courage. We have all been beginning teachers at one time or another. Trying to incorporate biotechnology into "traditional" biology classes is also like beginning again. Remember that first year of teaching? To make it easier for neophyte teachers to incorporate biotechnology into their curricula, two groups of teachers were surveyed. The first group, beginning biotech teachers, were asked what they would like to know to make biotech teaching less stressful and more accessible to them. The second group, experienced biotech teachers, were asked for hints/tips/suggestions that they felt would make teaching biotech easier for someone starting from scratch. Listed below are some hints, tips, suggestions, resources, suppliers, and words of wisdom to make beginning biotechnology in your classroom more user-friendly.
TARGET AGE/ABILITY GROUP:
Varies with each individual activity you choose.
Check teacher guide for more info.
Varies with the activities you choose to do. See teacher guides for each individual activity. Listed below is the bare minimum equipment needed to start teaching biotechnology-related activities in your classroom (according to experienced biotech teachers).
(prices are approximate, subject to change, and do not include shipping and handling)
WHAT WORKS (IN THIS MODULE):
MONEY--HOW TO GET IT
Grants are the way to go if your departmental, district, and/or state school budgets are tight. Suggestions in grant-getting from a discussion with Dr. Donald Cronkite and teachers from this institute are listed below.
Look through the grant-givers' glasses to see the world with their eyes. Money-givers have interests and goals for their programs. Think: What does the agency want to accomplish?
Learn about the foundation. Look at literature about the foundations, read, see what's possible, talk to people in the foundation.
Remember: grants are provided because the foundation wants something accomplished.
Follow directions (# of pages, info required, etc. . .). Spell correctly, write clearly, and have a specific budget. Justify your budget--are you really going to use everything? Look at questions carefully.
Find a grant that fits you--don't try to fit yourself to the grant. Write an "I wish . . ." list with what you want to do and why (ex. more field trips, electrophoresis equipment, workshops for other teachers, etc. . .). Start with an idea first, then find the grant. Don't let the grant set your agenda.
Explore what grant opportunities there are. Go to a college library and look at the Foundation Index and Grant Index. Look in the NSTA journal.
Start early and find people to critique your grant proposals.
You can use the same info for some sections of grants (like the intro).
Find successful people and talk to them. They can give you hints.
When you get turned down, write your grant again (revise).
Don't put salaries on budget--put money into supplies and equipment.
SOURCES OF MATERIALS:
Companies that experienced teachers order equipment from: (see appendix for addresses)
DNA Science (gives a good, basic understanding of the principles behind biotechnology labs in easy-to-comprehend style)
Biotechnology Sourcebook (NSTA) (highly recommended by experienced biotech teachers)
AP Biology Lab Book (so-so labs, most teachers supplement it with their own activities)
Biotechnology Activities--Massachusetts Biotechnology Resource Institute
Biotechnology Unit--St Louis Math and Science Education Center