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By: Debbie | September 24 2012 | Category: NIH Resources, Science Lite, Tidbits for Teachers

November 2 Cell Day Chat for Ms & HS StudentsThe Natonal Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) is committed to science education and encouraging future generations of scientists. To help mark our 50th anniversary, NIGMS will host an interactive Web chatroom about the cell for middle and high school students. Join us on Friday, November 2, 2012, anytime between 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. EDT. For more information about Cell Day, please see our FAQs page or send an e-mail to

Link to Chat Information:

For timely updates about science education, STEM, NIH research, and health and medical science, you can follow the NIH Office of Science Education through multiple channels:
By: Debbie | May 24 2012 | Category: Science History, Science Lite, Tidbits for Teachers

National Museum of Health and Medicine LogoThe National Museum of Health and Medicine opened its doors yesterday, May 21st, for the first time in its new location on Fort Detrick’s Forest Glen Annex in Silver Spring, MD just 5 miles from the National Institutes of Health main campus in Bethesda, MD.

Founded as the Army Medical Museum in 1862, the Museum celebrated its 150th anniversary as it opened its doors at its new location.  The Museum spotlights three themed exhibit rooms that are organized around topics as diverse as innovations in military medicine, traumatic brain injury, anatomy and pathology, military medicine during the Civil War, and the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.  The institution's 25-million object collection includes diverse artifacts as well as graphic specimens.  The Human Developmental Anatomy Center (HDAC), part of the Research Collections division of the National Museum of Health & Medicine, acquires and maintains collections pertaining to general developmental anatomy and neuroanatomy.  This collection provides any researcher or student access to a central location from which to obtain data about normal development for both human and common research species.  The HDAC maintains and archives the largest collection of human and comparative developmental material in the United States.      

A unique feature of the museum is its primary collections storage room that allows visitors to peer into the room where staff re-house artifacts and archival materials and prepare artifacts for future exhibits and study.  The room allows visitors to watch the Museum at work.

To view information on NMHM exhibits and programs visit:

To find more information about the historical understanding of biomedical research and the world check out NIH resources available at the U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, the world's largest history of medicine collections at:

Written by Jennifer Gorman Wright

For timely updates about science education, STEM, NIH research, and health and medical science, you can follow the NIH Office of Science Education through multiple channels:
By: Debbie | May 8 2012 | Category: NIH Resources, Science and the Arts, Science Lite, Tidbits for Teachers

Weight of the Nation HBO series logo When eating out at a restaurant, pay attention to portion sizes. Some entrees are big enough to feed two people. Share a plate, or plan to take home half your meal. Learn more about America’s obesity problems by watching the HBO documentary series Weight of the Nation. To find more healthy eating tips, check out NIH resources:

For timely updates about science education, STEM, NIH research, and health and medical science, you can follow the NIH Office of Science Education through multiple channels:

By: Debbie | March 30 2012 | Category: Science Lite, Scientists in the Community, Tidbits for Teachers

On March 15 National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director, Francis Collins, visited Bladensburg High School where he played guitar, sang, and spoke to students in the biomedical sciences program about exciting new research advances and rewarding careers in science & technology. Collins visited the students as part of the USA Science & Engineering Festival’s Nifty Fifty (times 2) program intended to help foster middle and high school student interest in science and engineering. The Bladensburg High School event was also a precursor to the second annual Festival that will be held April 28-29 at the Washington, D.C., Convention Center. Don’t worry if you missed this performance. You can see Dr. Collins perform at the Festival on Sunday, April 29, at 11:30 a.m. on Curie Stage.

You can read more about Dr. Collins' Bladensburg High School visit in a recent article.

For timely updates about science education, STEM, NIH research, and health and medical science, you can follow the NIH Office of Science Education through multiple channels:
By: Debbie | February 14 2012 | Category: Science Lite, Science News

Organ Donor PosterToday is Valentine's Day. It is also National Donor Day (NDD). NDD focuses on five points of life: organs, tissues, marrow, platelets, and blood. Many nonprofit health organizations sponsor blood and marrow drives and organ/tissue sign-ups across the nation. National Donor Day was started in 1998 by the Saturn Corporation and its United Auto Workers partners with the support of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and many nonprofit health organizations.

Consider giving the gift that keeps on giving--become an organ and tissue donor. As a donor, you may save up to 8 lives through organ donation and enhance the lives of many others through tissue donation. Last year alone, organ donors made more than 28,000 transplants possible. Another one million people received cornea and other tissue transplants that helped them recover from trauma, bone damage, spinal injuries, burns, hearing impairment, and vision loss.

Unfortunately, thousands die every year waiting for a donor organ that never comes. You have the power to change that!

You can learn more about becoming a donor at the U.S. Department of Health and Services Web site,
By: Debbie | January 31 2012 | Category: Research & Technology, Science and the Arts, Science Lite, Tidbits for Teachers

National STEM Video Challenge logoInspired by the Educate to Innovate Campaign, President Obama’s initiative to promote a renewed focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education, the National STEM Video Game ChallengeExternal Web Site Policy is a multi-year competition whose goal is to motivate interest in STEM learning among America’s youth by tapping into students’ natural passion for playing and making video games. Submissions will be accepted through March 12, 2012.

The 2012 National STEM Video Game Challenge is launched in partnership with Digital PromiseExternal Web Site Policy, a new initiative created by the President and Congress, supported through the Department of Education. The initiative is designed to unlock the promise of breakthrough technologies to transform teaching and learning.

To learn more about this exciting challenge, visit the National STEM Video Game Challenge Web siteExternal Web Site Policy.

For timely updates about science education, STEM, NIH research, and health and medical science, you can follow the NIH Office of Science Education through multiple channels:
By: Cynthia | January 26 2012 | Category: NIH Resources, Science Lite, Science News, Tidbits for Teachers

NIH LAB Challenge LogoThe Office of Science Education begins to review submissions to the NIH LAB Challenge

When we issued the NIH Lessons About Bioscience Challenge, we had no idea how many submissions we’d get. After all, it was our first online challenge and the first of its kind at the new site. We wondered whether it was too broad, or too narrow. Were our instructions clear? Would submitters understand that we wanted an experimental procedure rather than a write-up of a completed research project? It looks like we did a pretty good job, because most entries were right on target.

We received more than 100 submissions from 20 states and Puerto Rico by the December 15 deadline. People heard about the challenge mainly through word of mouth and email listservs, and some cited Twitter and as their source. The experiments cover a wide range of topics, from osmosis in chicken eggs to dragon genetics, and they target all grade levels.

Right now, we’re using a rubric to check that each submission meets our basic requirements. The ones that do will move on to the next phase. Some will be tested, and others will be reviewed by teachers and scientists before we announce the winners in March.

We want to send a hearty thank you to our several hundred submitters (most entries were by more than one person). We appreciate your efforts to help us bring the best science experiments to classrooms across the country. Stay tuned for updates!

The Numbers

Number of submissions: 108

How submitters heard about the challenge:, 10; Twitter, 5; word of mouth, 33; other, 60
Geographic origin: Texas ,39; Maryland, 26; California, 6; Maine, 4; Colorado, 3; Iowa, 3; North Dakota, 3; Massachusetts, 2; Missouri, 2; Ohio, 2; Pennsylvania, 2; Tennessee, 2; Virginia, 2; and Puerto Rico, 2; and 1 each from Arizona, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, and Washington (105 entries identified their state)
Targeted grade level of experiment: elementary grades K to 5, 42 (45%), middle school grades 5 to 8, 26 (28%), middle and high school grades 7 to 12, 13 (14%), and high school grades 9 to 12, 13 (14%)
By: Debbie | January 26 2012 | Category: Science Lite, Science News, Tidbits for Teachers

ASHG DNA Day Essay Contest LogoThe American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG)External Web Site Policy invites you to participate in the 7th Annual DNA Day Essay Contest!External Web Site Policy The contest is open to students in grades 9-12.
The contest aims to challenge students to examine, question, and reflect on the important concepts of genetics. Essays are expected to contain substantive, well-reasoned arguments indicative of a depth of understanding of the concepts related to the essay questions.

Essays are read and evaluated by several independent judges through three rounds of scoring.
1st Place Winner:     $1,000 + teacher receives a $1,000 grant for laboratory genetics equipment.
2nd Place Winner:     $600 + teacher receives a $600 grant for laboratory genetics equipment.
3rd Place Winner:     $400 + teacher receives a $400 grant for laboratory genetics equipment.
Honorable Mention:     10 prizes of $100 each.

Visit the ASHG DNA Day Contest pageExternal Web Site Policy see this year's question and to learn more about the submission process.

The National Institutes of Health Office of Science Education (OSE) will be following the events leading up to DNA Day.External Web Site Policy You can follow OSE on FacebookExternal Web Site Policy and TwitterExternal Web Site Policy to follow the latest science health and medical science news of interest to teachers and students.
By: Debbie | October 28 2011 | Category: Issues in Education, NIH Resources, Science Lite, Science News, Tidbits for Teachers

National Drug Facts Week LogoToday, I'm joining teens, parents, teachers, and scientists across America to kick off National Drug Facts Week by offering up my own shoutout for educating teens about drug abuse.

Sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Drug Facts Week is an official health observance designed to shatter the myths and spread the facts about drug abuse and addiction.

Add your voice today and post your own drug abuse shoutout on your blog, Facebook profile, Twitter account—or wherever you see fit. When you choose to speak, you choose to act.

Events Across America
Teens, parents, teachers, scientists, and others are marking the occasion in communities all over the country, from Douglas, Alaska, to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Unique events like scavenger hunts, poster campaigns, Halloween “Fright Nights” with giveaways, carnivals, and substance-free parties encourage teens to have meaningful conversations about drugs and addiction.
Learn more about today's "CyberShoutout" in support of National Drug Facts Week by checking NIDA's Sara Bellum Blog, which will be posting updates all day and recognizing the voices of those who participate—Yours could be one of them!
By: Gloria, Margaret | March 28 2011 | Category: Science Lite, Scientists in the Community, Tidbits for Teachers

Dr. Yvette Laclaustra working with patients in Haiti.March, Women’s History Month, is a time to celebrate achievements of women. This year’s theme--Our History Is Our Strength--pays tribute to the millions of women who are instrumental in creating a better world. They are the Marie Curies of today, able to excel in fields in which women were historically underrepresented. Many of these women have a connection to NIH. Some are featured in our free, award-winning Women Are Scientists video series--a partnership between the Office of Science Education and the Office of Research on Women's Health. Join us as we honor a couple of the exceptional women highlighted in these five DVDs!

In the words of a reader responding to an April 2010 SciEd blog post, the videos “add to a gathering perception that women should participate in greater numbers in fields of science. These videos also provide insights for encouraging lifelong curiosity and intellectual engagement. Many of the fundamentals in these videos apply to getting America's kids engaged in lifelong learning. For example, in the Women Are Researchers video, one interviewee discusses how having books and engaging materials around her house growing up helped her to become the researcher she is today.”

That’s Connie Noguchi, Ph.D., who advises students to “play hard.” She’s not only a researcher and the dean of the Graduate School at the NIH Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences, but also a black belt in Karate and mother of two. Connie says that developing skills in one activity or sport, rather than dabbling in many, helps her develop the kind of focus she also needs for her scientific research. To students who may want to follow in her career path, Connie says, “Learn as much basic science as you can, including taking math, chemistry, physics, and biology classes. Develop your reading and writing skills so that you will be able to communicate with other scientists and learn about what has been done before.”

In her professional life, Connie gave back for many years by hosting teacher interns in her lab at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. She shared research experiences that could be transmitted back to classrooms. Connie’s current passion is finding the best ways to treat sickle cell anemia.

The Women Are Surgeons video highlights women such as Yvette Laclaustra, a trauma surgeon, breast surgeon, wife, and mother of three. “There is nothing more honorable and spiritually rewarding than being a surgeon,” says Laclaustra, whose goal is to alleviate human suffering. She was on a volunteer team that did more than 100 surgeries and procedures in Honduras in 2004 through 2006 for the Light of the World Surgical Mission. She also spent five days in Haiti in 2010 doing hernia repairs, wound care, and mastectomies.

Born and educated in Puerto Rico, she is now on staff at St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, and has a private practice in general surgery. She serves on the Susan G. Komen South Florida Race for the Cure Leadership T eam. Yvette uses her considerable talents to pave the way for women and minorities to follow their career paths with a little greater ease.

Read more about Yvette and other women who have changed the face of medicine at the National Library of Medicine online exhibition

For information on student internships and opportunities at NIH, visit the OSE Website.
By: Gloria, Margaret | March 17 2011 | Category: Science Lite, Science News, Tidbits for Teachers

Fist coming out of a computer monitorThe President and the First Lady opened the summit with a video about bullying and the growing movement to make our communities places where young people can thrive. The President explained that the goal of the conference was to “dispel the myth that bullying is just a harmless rite of passage or an inevitable part of growing up.”

The President says bullying is harmful and that it “doesn’t even end at the school bell -- it can follow our children from the hallways to their cell phones to their computer screens.” He asks people to join the stop-bullying campaign by visiting

With computers and cell phones, cyberbullies may circulate aggressive messages far and wide, sometimes anonymously. Internet technology is increasingly in the hands of today’s youth, which has many benefits but also downsides with potentially far-reaching consequences. Tragically, the number of reports in the news of student suicides following incidents of cyberbullying is growing.

A recent NIH study notes that today’s children can’t always see who is bullying them, and this may be tougher to handle than traditional bullying. In fact, one of the study’s most notable findings was that cyberbully victims had higher depression scores over a 30-day period than did either the cyberbullies or the cyberbullies who are also victims.

The NIH study, based on a survey of students in grades 6 to 10, shows how prevalent cyberbullying is and the high rate of depression among victims. Cyber victims may not see or even be able to identify their harasser and may feel more vulnerable, isolated, and dehumanized at the time of attack than victims of traditional bullying, the study authors wrote in the Journal of Adolescent Health. Being bullied affects scholastic achievement, development of social skills, and general feelings of wellbeing, says Dr. Iannotti, the study’s senior author. Boys are more likely to be cyberbullies, and girls are more likely to be cyber victims. In an earlier study, the researchers noted that students were less likely to bully or to be victimized if they felt they had strong parental support.

The CDC reports that electronic aggression may peak around the end of middle school to the beginning of high school, and instant messaging appears to be the most common form of communication for cyberbullies. Victims of electronic aggression are significantly more likely than those who have not been victimized to use alcohol and other drugs, receive school detention or suspension, skip school, or experience in-person bullying.

These findings underscore the need to monitor and treat cyberbullying victims. First Lady Michelle Obama recently shared on the Today Show that she does not allow her children to participate on Facebook and is not a fan of young children using it. In fact, Facebook is restricted by law to users who are at least 13 years old.

The good news is that there’s a growing number of resources to help educators, parents, and students deal with cyberbullying.

Check out these Federal sites:

Here are some other good resources:

By: Gina | May 20 2010 | Category: Science Lite, Science News, Tidbits for Teachers

Ten DNA pools, each containing DNA from nine individuals. If an individual's DNA is present in a particular pool, their intials are listed in the row for that pool.Suppose you’ve discovered that the genes responsible for (let’s say) Gina’s disease lie in a particular region of chromosome 3. You decide to sequence the DNA in that region to identify variants (mutations) that cause the problem. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of variation, so it’s not easy to link one particular variant with the illness. If you could just sequence the DNA of 10,000 people, you could figure it out. 
As if! It’s possible to sequence DNA from many people in the same tube simultaneously but to do it, each DNA has to be labeled with its own “barcode” so its sequence can be matched back to the correct individual. Barcoding 10,000 DNA samples would take a long time and be very expensive. 
Last year, researchers at Cold Spring Harbor LaboratoryExternal Web Site Policy figured out a way to get around this problem.1 They decided to pool each person’s DNA with that of others, but instead of tagging each person’s, they put every individual’s DNA into several different pools. 
How does that help? A simple example is shown in the figure. Suppose each person’s DNA is placed in five pools. If the sequence GACGGCATGTA is found in pools #1 #2, #3, #5, and #10 but not in any other pools, the sequence can be uniquely assigned to person AM because AM is the only person with DNA in all of those pools. Similarly, if the sequence AATTGCTAGCA is found only in pools #1, #3, #6, #8, and #10, the sequence can be uniquely assigned to person JS. 
Of course, it may be simple to sort things out in a small sample, but imagine trying to do this if there are thousands of people and hundreds of pools. What’s a scientist to do? Enter ”DNA Sudoku.” It turns out that the same math used to determine the unique pattern of each Sudoku puzzle can be used to assign each DNA variation to a particular person. In fact, it’s theoretically possible to sequence more than 100,000 samples simultaneously. Once the technology is perfected, a project that would cost $10 million today may soon cost as little as $50,000.
1 Erlich, Y., et al. 2009. DNA Sudoku—harnessing high-throughput sequencing for multiplexed specimen analysis. Genome Research 19: 1243-1253External Web Site Policy.
By: Gina | May 18 2010 | Category: Science and the Arts, Science Lite, Scientists in the Community

Photograph of Ryam MiyakawaThe USA Science & Engineering Festival External Web Site Policy just announced winners of their jingle contest.  The entries were great and the winning jingles awesome. Listen to the tunesExternal Web Site Policy on the Festival Web site. 

The winning jingle was composed by Ryan Miyakawa a Ph.D. student in applied science and technology at UC Berkeley.  Second place was taken by Daniel Rubalsky, a 15-year old tenth-grader from Reisterstown, MD.

Ryan's song, "Come and Play at the USA Science and Engineering Festival!", is sung by UC Berkeley undergraduate Glory Liu with the help of seven-year-old Noa Perlmutter (daughter of well-known UC Berkeley astrophysicist Saul Perlmutter) and 11 year-old Kassie Demopoulous  (daughter of Glory's thesis advisor).

The second place prize to Daniel was added by Festival organizers because his song received so many votes from the public.  (And a good decision it was!)  The song, "The Science Festival is Coming," is performed by Daniel and his four-member band, State the Name.

Come to the two day USA Science & Engineering Expo on the National Mall October 23 &24th.  Not in the DC area? Check out the USA Science & Engineering Festival External Web Site Policy Web site to find a satellite festival near you.  Satellite festivals will run from October 10th -24th.

By: Margaret | April 7 2010 | Category: Science Lite, Scientists in the Community, Tidbits for Teachers

Women Are Scientists Poster CompositeI’ve been interested in the underrepresentation of women in certain careers since college, when I minored in women’s studies. As a working mom, I’m also interested in how women balance career and family life. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed the NIH Women Are Scientists video series so much. It highlights successful women scientists and doctors who have overcome obstacles—including physical disabilities—and achieved a rewarding career and a healthy work-life balance.

This award-winning series—which is FREE and can be downloaded or viewed online or on DVD—was developed by a colleague here in the office and former high school science teacher. The videos—geared toward middle school students—are fast-moving, showing the rapid pace of an emergency room or genetics lab, the  intricacies of surgery, the calm intensity of a psychotherapy session, and more. Anyone can use them—teachers, guidance counselors, students, physicians—at career days, science clubs, etc. This series is a partnership between the Office of Science Education and the Office of Research on Women's Health.

One of my favorites is the Women Scientists with Disabilities video. I loved learning about women like Bertha Melgoza, who lost her sight from a childhood illness and faced a tough future in Mexico. Over the course of nine years of weekly transfusions, Melgoza’s doctor spurred her interest in sociology and encouraged her to attend his lectures. With this foundation, Melgoza asked herself: “What do people do to turn this pain into strength?” Now she is a successful clinical psychologist in the U.S. with a husband, a son and a full spiritual life.

Always a fan of Star Trek, I enjoyed the introduction to the Women Are Researchers video, narrated by Gates McFadden, who played Dr. Beverly Crusher in the TV series. McFadden introduces three real-life extraordinary women researchers who have overcome gender, ethnic, and physical barriers to become successful biomedical researchers. One of those researchers, Judith Pachciarz, was initially denied the right to attend college decades ago due to her hearing impairment. But that didn’t stop her. She went to court to gain admission and went on to earn an M.D. and a Ph.D. Her advice to young girls: “Look at every obstacle as something to be overcome to develop your character.”

Even my daughter, who’s only 10, was captivated by the fictional detective story of a teenage girl in the Women Are Pathologists video. The girl learns about the field of pathology as she discovers that her sister has cervical cancer and is keeping it a secret. We see pathologists working in the subspecialties of forensic, surgical, and academic pathology.

Each of the other two videos—Women in Dental Research and Woman are Surgeons—also shows three amazing women performing life-saving surgery, fighting AIDS, conducting research, teaching new physicians, and giving children free dental care and offers glimpses into their private lives.

I think young women seeking role models for success in medical science would be really inspi red by t his series. I’m eager to hear what you think of the videos and how you use them.
By: Gina | February 25 2010 | Category: Science Lite, Tidbits for Teachers

Girl in library stacksI just got back from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in (not so sunny and not so warm) San Diego and thought I would share a few of my particularly interesting discoveries.

To begin with I learned about a new organization, the Science Festival Alliance whose goal is to support the development of science festivals. The Science Festival Alliance has created a Web-based resource center to collect, archive, and share information concerning all aspects of science festivals and provide resources to help new science festivals get started.  As a starting point you can go to their interactive festival map to see what others are doing.

I also discovered Science in School, a European journal and Web-based resource that has been around for a while, but may not be familiar to North American readers.  Published quarterly on-line and in print, the  journal aims to promote inspiring science teaching by encouraging communication between teachers, scientists, and everyone else involved in science education. It addresses science, math, and engineering teaching across disciplines: highlighting the best in teaching and cutting-edge research, focusing on interdisciplinary work.  The contents include teaching materials, cutting-edge science, education projects, interviews with young scientists and inspiring teachers, as well as other items. Though the journal is published in English, many Science in School resources are available in other languages as well.

Finally, I want to mention something that I rediscovered - the Journal of Young Investigators. The journal published its first article in 1998 and is a peer-reviewed journal that publishes undergraduate research articles in science, mathematics, and engineering. Not only do undergraduates write the articles, but also, students (working with their faculty advisors) review the work of their peers and determine whether that work is acceptable for publication in JYI. This may be useful to many of you as a way to help your students publish their work and to learn about the process of publishing in science from both the perspective of the reviewer and the submitter.

Do you have any other resources of general interest that you want to share?  Any comments on these?
By: Gina | January 8 2010 | Category: Science Lite, Scientists in the Community, Tidbits for Teachers

National Lab Day logo

What is National Lab Day?

National Lab Day (NLD) is more than just a day. It’s a nationwide movement to bring more high-quality, hands-on, discovery-based lab experiences to students in U.S. middle and high schools. To accomplish this, NLD fosters collaborations of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professionals with educators and students both in and out of school. Activities go on throughout the year, culminating in a May NLD celebration to recognize the projects and their achievements.

Who is National Lab Day?

National Lab Day is a partnership among federal agencies, foundations, professional societies, and other STEM-related organizations. Involved federal agencies include the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Energy. Supporting foundations include the Gates Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation. Over 200 professional organizations—with a combined membership of 6.2 million—are working to make National Lab Day a success. The National Science Teachers Association and the American Chemical Society are coordinating the professional organization efforts.

How does National Lab Day work?

Step 1 for requestors. Teachers, museums, and after-school programs post their needs on the NLD websiteExternal Web Site Policy.
Educators set the agenda for NLD. They know their students and their needs. Requests might be for lab equipment, one-on-one mentoring from a scientist, a visit to a working lab, tech support, help with a lesson plan, up-to-date career information, help with a science fair project, chaperones for a field trip, or just an extra set of hands for a class project.

Step 1 for volunteers. Volunteers register and list their skills, expertise, and access to resources on the NLD websiteExternal Web Site Policy .
While all kinds of volunteers are needed, scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematics undergraduate and graduate students and professionals are particularly encouraged to participate.  They can convey the challenges, rewards, and promise of their careers, and inspire the next generation of scientists and innovators.

Step 2. Requestors and volunteers receive a list of potential partners and connect with them.
After posting a request for volunteers or resources on the NLD websiteExternal Web Site Policy , the requestor will be emailed a list of local volunteers. Requestors can contact the volunteers on the list or browse for others and begin to form a local community of support —university students, scientists, engineers, professionals, and others—who will work with them to achieve their objectives.
Volunteers will also be emailed a list of local opportunities and will be able to browse requests and respond with offers to help according to the needs of the re questors.

Step 3. Have fun together helping students learn.
By: Gina | January 7 2010 | Category: Science Lite, Scientists in the Community, Tidbits for Teachers

Festival Name surrounded by icons representing different aspaects of science 

USA Science & Engineering Festival coming soon, the first national event

What is the universe made of? Why did dinosaurs go extinct? What do magic tricks and hip-hop have to with math? What can amphibians and reptiles tell us about the environment? What do engineers have to do with baseball? Kids (and adults) will have a chance to find out at the first ever USA Science & Engineering FestivalExternal Web Site Policy Expo on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 23 & 24th, 2010.

The Expo is the pinnacle event of the inaugural USA Science & Engineering FestivalExternal Web Site Policy that will be celebrated all over the United States. The Festival is a collaboration of over 500 of the nation’s leading science and engineering organizations.

You can help make the USA Science & Engineering FestivalExternal Web Site Policy a truly national experience by hosting a Satellite Event in your area. Whether you are a student club, school, university, community organization or company, you can put on your own celebration of science the same weekend that thousands of people celebrate science in the National Mall. The organizers are working to have hundreds of Satellite Events throughout the country, anchored to the Expo on the Mall. You can make your Event as small or as big as you want. It can be a single activity put on by your student club, a small celebration at your school or company, a larger event that involves organizations from your community, or a full fledged Festival modeled after the USA Science & Engineering FestivalExternal Web Site Policy .

You create it, and the festival organizers will help you market it by including your information on their website and in their newsletters. That way, anyone in the nation can check our website to see what’s happening in their backyard the weekend of the Expo. It’s a great way to get your community excited about science, and to put your organization on the national map. Check out the USA Science & Engineering FestivalExternal Web Site Policy website for more information.

By: Gina | October 29 2009 | Category: Science Lite, Scientists in the Community, Tidbits for Teachers

A photo of a sign with text 'University Road'Like I said, I get bored easily. After a while, I got tired of investigating things that my boss wanted to study and wanted to try out some new ideas of my own. That meant I needed my own lab, which in turn meant I needed my own faculty position at a university. Getting one of those is not as easy as it sounds, but I worked hard and succeeded.

Great! Now all I needed was money. To get that, I needed to write a grant. Who would have thought that I would have to be a good writer to be a scientist? Between writing articles for scientific journals and applying for grants, I spent a lot of my time writing. Worse yet, my research involved doing experiments with mice and collecting blood from people. Both require special approval. I did lots of paper work to explain why it made scientific sense to study mice and collect human blood. I had to show how I was going to minimize any possible distress for the mice and protect the health and privacy of my human volunteers. As a new kid on the block, it was all pretty overwhelming, but I survived and got my lab going.

Of course, professors teach, too, so I spent a lot of my time doing that. I taught undergraduate and graduate courses and had students and postdocs in my lab doing research. In the summer, I even worked with some high school students. One fun thing about being a scientist is meeting people from all over the world. I had people from India, Iran, Egypt, Mexico, Russia, Serbia, and China working in my lab. I worked with other faculty from Nigeria, Romania, Germany, Canada, and Brazil, among others. Today, my three closest friends are a German, a Bulgarian, and an American.

There is a third part of being a university professor, but more about that next time.
By: Gina | October 28 2009 | Category: Science Lite, Scientists in the Community, Tidbits for Teachers

Photo of two feet standing amongst a number of arrows pointing to different paths to chose from.When it came time to leave my fellowship, I was still crazy about doing experiments in the laboratory. To keep doing lab work, I could choose between an industry and a university lab. (I didn’t know it at the time, but I could have considered one of the many government labs, too.) I decided on an academic job because, frankly, I still liked being able to play basketball in the middle of the day. I found a job working in a lab with a professor who was studying how genes get turned on and off. Oops! Did I change research areas again? Well, I get bored easily!

One of my best friends who also loved working in the lab took a job in industry. No more midday sports, but he had kids and wanted to work regular hours. It was perfect for him. Besides, industry usually pays better than academia.

Another friend still loved science but just didn’t want to work in a laboratory any more. She got a job in a university office that helps scientists patent and commercialize their discoveries. Her job was to work with the lawyers in the office to help them better understand the science behind the products and devices they were helping commercialize.

While I was looking for my job, I heard from a friend from my old theoretical chemistry days. He had become a full-time musician. He was applying all his computer skills to making electronic music.

Whew! We all got jobs, said our goodbyes, and moved to Seattle, San Antonio, Los Angeles, and Boston.
By: Gina | October 22 2009 | Category: Science Lite, Scientists in the Community, Tidbits for Teachers

Two feed holding a basketballTwenty years ago, I had finished my Ph.D. and was working as a postdoctoral fellow. That means I was working in the lab pretty much all day every day. Since I got my Ph.D. in theoretical chemistry, chemistry that uses computers not test tubes, you might think I spent my postdoc days in front of a computer. Nope! I was working in a biochemistry lab. Huh? Well, in the late 1980s, there weren’t a lot of jobs for theoretical chemists. Luckily, a science education opens doors, and I had offers to work in all kinds of labs. I liked biochemistry, so I chose that. 

Early on, I spent my days reading scientific papers to learn what other scientists were doing, and then I used that knowledge and my training in the scientific method to design and plan experiments. When things went well and I made new discoveries, my boss and I wrote papers and sent them to scientific journals for publication. After a bunch of other scientists reviewed them and we answered their questions and maybe did a few more experiments, they were published. It usually took a year or two to get one paper published.

It wasn’t all work. I also spent a good part of many days playing touch football and basketball. One good thing about being a scientist is that in many labs, you can work pretty much whatever hours you want. Of course, if I played basketball during the day, I was in the lab working late at night (even after I broke my foot-- twice!).
By: Gina | October 20 2009 | Category: Science Lite, Scientists in the Community, Tidbits for Teachers

Crossword cubes photoEver wonder what a scientist does all day? As a scientist, I have a pretty good idea. OK, at least I know what some of my scientist friends and I do. And what I do now is very different from what I did 10 years ago, which was different from what I did 10 years before that. There’s clearly plenty of room for growth and change as a scientist. Becoming a scientist does not mean you need to spend the rest of your life in the lab, but you can if you want. Some of my friends still do just that – working in the lab is their passion. But I, like many other scientists, have taken a career path that uses my scientific training not just to make new discoveries in the laboratory but also in ways you might never have imagined.

I want to share my story and those of a few of my friends and show you that being a scientist can be fun and challenging and take you in many directions. Look for my blogs on the next few Tuesdays and Thursdays:

  • Work Hard, Play Hard: Life as a Postdoc
  • Get a Real Job!
  • A Day in the Life of a Professor
  • Moving to Washington
  • Retirement: Girls Just Want to Have Fun
By: Cynthia | September 25 2009 | Category: Science Lite, Scientists in the Community

Now here is something you don't see every day - the Director of the National Institutes of Health performing onstage with Aerosmith’s Joe Perry External Web Site Policy at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center yesterday. Dr. Francis Collins' performance at the event – Rock Stars of Science Briefing and Tribute External Web Site Policy – is part of a campaign to honor scientists, encourage science as a career choice, and call for further research funding.

Elected leaders, politicians, prominent scientists, and rock stars participating in the event share a common mission: to accelerate the science, from research bench to bedside, so that cures can be found for life-threatening diseases like HIV/AIDS, cancer, and Alzheimer’s.

Collins shared the stage with Perry and Harvard professor Rudy Tanzi External Web Site Policy who played the harmonica. The trio received a standing ovation when Collins led the vocals on a Bob Dylan tune, The Times They Are A-Changin’ . Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci gave a special presentation about the search for an effective HIV/AIDS vaccine and the announcement of some promising results from a trial in Thailand.

The event was sponsored by Geoffrey Beene Gives Back External Web Site Policy , Research!America External Web Site Policy , the Alzheimer’s Association External Web Site Policy , Wyeth Extern  al Web Site Policy , Elan External Web Site Policy , and GQ External Web Site Policy . The event was also conducted in cooperation with the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus and the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease. ABC News anchor Terry Moran External Web Site Policy emceed the event and moderated discussions.

Watch CNN’s video External Web Site Policy of Joe Perry at the briefing, talking about the need for more scientists and his early hopes of becoming a marine biologist.

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