Relatively new to me – so maybe new to some of my devoted legion of readers (many of whom may be involved in teaching science, plant or otherwise) and therefore worthy of sharing – is news of the Understanding Science teaching resource. Yes, it’s ‘American’. So, you might be annoyed by the idiosyncratic spellings. And it is primarily directed at teaching students up to age 16. But, science is universal, and scientists are adaptable and resourceful, so we can accommodate ‘unusual’ spellings. Plus, it’s what we encourage our students to do with the concepts, ideas and knowledge that means that a resource ostensibly directed at a 16-year old can still deliver extremely useful learning opportunities, etc, to 18-year olds such as first-year undergraduates. And…the stuff is free(!). I was particularly impressed with the recent resource – a ‘Science in Action’ item – relating to the traumatic birth pangs and tortured teenage years of Margulis’ endosymbiotic theory of the origin of eukaryotic cells (the greatest example of which is – undeniably! – the plant cell). In recounting that story the site offers numerous links to other resources that deal with important scientific ideas such as evidence and hypothesis testing. All very impressive – great for undergraduate teaching, and for those wider participation/out-reach activities that some of us engage in. Check it out for yourself!
About the author
Nigel is a botanist and full-time academic at Bath Spa University (Bath, near Bristol, UK). As News Editor for the Annals of Botany he contributes the monthly Plant Cuttings column to that august international botanical organ. His main goal is to inform (hopefully, in an educational, and entertaining way...) about plants and plant-people interactions.