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Tidbits for Teachers

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 | April 19 2012 | Category: NIH Resources, Tidbits for Teachers

Evolution in Medicien Cover ImageTeachers can now order the FREE new curriculum supplement, Evolution in Medicine, sponsored by 11 participating National Institutes of Health (NIH) Institutes and Centers and the Office of the Director. This supplement for grades 9 through 12 allows students to explore evolutionary principles and learn how evolution informs human health, biomedical problems, and disease treatment. The supplement contains two weeks of lessons that are easily integrated into your curriculum and are aligned to national and state standards.  Order your FREE copy today!

The following lessons are included in Evolution and Medicine:

Ideas about the Role of Evolution in Medicine

Students learn to recognize that understanding the mechanisms of evolution, especially adaptation by natural selection, enhances medical practice and knowledge. Using an evolutionary tree, explore how common ancestry shapes the characteristics of living organisms.

Investigating Lactose Intolerance and Evolution

Students can understand that natural selection is the only evolutionary mechanism to consistently yield adaptations and that some of the variation among humans that may affect health is distributed geographically.

Evolutionary Processes and Patterns Inform Medicine

Students examine how health and disease are related to human evolution and understand why some diseases are more common in certain parts of the world. Analyze data and apply principles of natural selection to explain the relatively high frequency of disease in certain populations.

Using Evolution to Understand Influenza

Students understand how comparisons of genetic sequences are important for studying biomedical problems and informing public health decisions. Apply evolutionary theory to explain the emergence and spread of infectious diseases.

Evaluating Evolutionary Explanations

Students understand the importance of evidence in interpreting examples of evolution and medicine. Appreciate that natural selection and common ancestry can explain why humans are susceptible to many diseases.

For timely updates about science education, STEM, NIH research, and health and medical science, you can follow the NIH Office of Science Education (NIHSciEd) 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 | March 19 2012 | Category: Science News, Scientists in the Community, Tidbits for Teachers

Photo of Elizabeth GriceElizabeth Grice studies the bacteria that live on human skin. Her research sheds light on why chronic wounds don't heal and might point to new treatments for diabetic foot ulcers and other skin conditions. 

Read more about Elizabeth Grice in the latest issue of Findings, a publication of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, NIH.

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: Cindy, Cynthia | March 1 2012 | Category: NIH Resources, Tidbits for Teachers

NIH K-12 LAB Challenge Winners BadgeNIH announces the first set of LAB Challenge winners; expect more to come!

Today we are excited to announce the first group of winners of the NIH K–12 Lessons About Bioscience (LAB) Challenge. Yes, you read that right. This is the first batch of winners, so don't panic if you don't see your name yet. We received so many great, prize-winning entries that we’re announcing the winners in phases. You could be a winner in the next batch, to be announced April 1st.

You may wonder if the first batch of winners is somehow better than the next one. The answer is no, not at all. It’s just that these were the first ones we processed and identified as winners.

These 28 winning entries are from 60 individual participants. Our youngest participant was 6 years old, and we had a submission from a team that included a Vanderbilt University student, a faculty member, and an emeritus professor. Of the winning procedures, 12 targeted elementary grades and 16 were for middle and high school. It was a nice surprise to see that at least 12 of the winners were original creations, and another 12 were modified from existing sources. Winners come from across the United States, including California, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Puerto Rico.

All of the winners (no matter from which batch) and their experiment procedures will be compiled into a publication that will be free to everyone. This publication will also be published in phases, as each procedure is processed and edited for style and format. We will keep you posted on when they become available, and you can check our Web site for this and other updates any time.

Congratulations to our winners (so far)! Please stay tuned for news of more winners.

About the Challenge

The challenge—developed by the trans-NIH Science Education Resources Group (SERG) and published on the Web site—was a national call-to-action asking individuals, groups, organizations, and scientists to submit procedures for engaging, hands-on health and life science experiments for grades K–12. Submission guidelines required that the activities should: (1) be geared toward grades K–12; (2) use safe, easily available, and inexpensive materials; (3) take 90 minutes (or less) of in-class time; (4) have at least one clear learning objective; and (5) be related to the NIH mission. Submissions were accepted from June 1 to December 15, 2011, and a panel of educators and NIH scientists are selecting the top entries. The winners receive an electronic NIH K-12 LAB Challenge Winner’s badge and will be listed with their experimental procedures in a final free publication.
By: Cindy | February 28 2012 | Category: NIH Resources, Tidbits for Teachers

Rare Diseases Day LogoThis year’s theme: “Rare But Strong Together”

We’ve been thinking a lot about rare diseases in the office this year, as we wrapped up production of our latest middle school curriculum supplement, Rare Diseases and Scientific Inquiry. It’ll help students explore how scientists research rare diseases and treatments and learn about the workings of the human body. It’s almost ready to ship to educators, which is amazing, since it’s time again to observe Rare Disease Day!

The first Rare Disease Day took place in Europe and Canada during our last leap year, Feb. 29, 2008. Sponsored by alliances of patient groups External Web Site Policy, it was created to raise awareness about rare diseases and improve their treatment and patients’ access to treatment. Over the next four years, dozens of countries have joined in, and last year, more than 60 countries from all over the world participated.

NIH celebrates Rare Disease Day at an all- day series of talks, posters, and exhibits on the main campus in Bethesda, MD. The focus is on research supported by NIH, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Organization of Rare Disorders, and the Genetics Alliance. You can follow the events of the day on Twitter: #NIHORDR.

Wearing your favorite pair of jeans is one way to show your support for Rare Disease Day, thanks to a campaign the Global Genes ProjectExternal Web Site Policylaunched 2009. The connection? Jeans and genes are universal – as are rare diseases. More than 7,000 rare diseases affect 30 million people in the United States alone, and about three-quarters of these are children.

To request a copy of Rare Diseases or find out more about it, visit

For more information about rare diseases, see

For more about global campaigns to raise awareness and fund rare diseases resea rch, go to the Rare Project site: External Web Site Policy
For timely updates about science education, STEM, NIH research, and health and med i cal science, you can follow the NIH Office of Science Education through multiple channel s:
By: Debbie | February 8 2012 | Category: Issues in Education, Research & Technology, Tidbits for Teachers

Digital Learning Day Garfield LogoOn February 1, almost 2 million students and 15,000 teachers from 39 states and the District of Columbia celebrated the very first national Digital Learning DayExternal Web Site Policy.  The purpose of the event, hosted by the Alliance for Excellent EducationExternal Web Site Policy, was to show how technology is providing exciting, high-quality educational opportunities in classrooms across the country.

Technology can give students and teachers the chance to virtually visit museums and national parks, listen to lectures and educational programs, and connect with their counterparts in other places around the country and the world. Participants in Digital Learning Day connected with four schools via Skype and saw videos about innovative ways students are learning with the help of technology. For more about these schools and the videos, go to The 2013 will be announced soon!

To learn more about Digital Learning DayExternal Web Site Policy go to: Web Site Policy

Blog post written by Lisa Strauss

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 7 2012 | Category: Issues in Education, Research & Technology, Science News, Tidbits for Teachers

Today (February 7), President Obama will host the second annual White House Science Fair celebrating the student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions from across the country. The President will also announce key steps that the Administration and its partners are taking to help more students excel in math and science, and earn degrees in these subjects. You can watch the President’s remarks live at 11:25 a.m. EST at

Visit the live White House event at You can also join the live Facebook discussion at Web Site Policy and follow the White House Science Fair on Twitter via the hashtag #WHScienceFair

Over 100 students from over 45 states are heading to the White House with their robots, research and new inventions for the second ever White House Science Fair.

The White House is calling on folks across the country to join the Science Fair virtually! While students at the White House share their latest inventions--from a robotic arm to waste-reducing dissolvable sugar packets -- we want to hear about the projects you've worked on. They want you to share your favorite science fair project and share pictures on Twitter with the hashtag #WHScienceFair or through a form on They will display some of their favorite submissions on

Here’s how it works:

  • Starting now, you can ask your questions on Twitter with the hashtag #WHChat. We'll also be using the hashtag #WHScienceFair
  • At 2:00 p.m. today *February 7) Bill Nye the Science Guy (@TheScienceGuy) and Tom Kalil, Deputy Director for Policy, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (@WhiteHouseOSTP) will answer your questions live on Twitter. Follow the Q&A through the @WHLive Twitter account.
The White House Science Fair celebrates the student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions from across the country. At the fair, President Obama will view student projects and speak on the importance of STEM education. The President will also announce key steps that the Administration is taking to help more students excel in math and science, and earn degrees in these subjects.

The National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute Director, Dr. Harold Varmus is among the senior administrative officials who will be attending the science fair.

A sampling of the exhibits at the White House Science Fair include:

  • Student “Making” and Starting Small Business to Sell his Invention.   Fourteen year old Joey Hudy from Phoe nix , Arizona is already a Maker Faire veteran.  He invented an Extreme Marshmallow Cannon and an LED Cube Microcontroller Shield, which he has exhibited at Maker Faires in New York, San Francisco, and Detroit.  He received 2 Editors Choice Awards from Maker Faire, and has started a small business selling the microcontroller (Arduino) shield kits on several websites.  As the World's Largest Do-It-Yourself Festival, Maker Faire is the premier event for grassroots American inn ovation.
  • Designing a More Efficient Way to Collect Solar Energy.  Aidan Dwyer, a middle school student hailing from Northport, New York, won first place in the American Museum of Natural History’s 2011 Young Naturalist Award for his study of a more efficient way to collect solar energy.  Modeling the natural design of tree limbs which Aidan predicted must serve a benefit for the trees to optimize sun collected to feed photosynthesis in the short, dark days of winter, Aidan worked to devise a potentially more efficient way to collect solar energy.
  • Seventeen-Year Old Girl Designing Targeted Cancer Treatment.  Angela Zhang, a seventeen year old senior from Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, California, won the $100,000 Grand Prize in the Individual category of the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology for using nanotechnology to eradicate cancer stem cells. Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are responsible for initiating and driving tumor growth yet are often resistant to current cancer therapies.  In her research, Angela aimed to design a nanosystem to target drug delivery to these cancer stem cells, which could potentially help overcome cancer resistance, minimize undesirable side effects, and allow for real-time monitoring of treatment efficacy.
  • Teenage CEO Inventing Dissolvable Sugar Packets to Reduce Waste.  Hayley Hoverter, a 16 years old student from Downtown Business Magnet High School in Los Angeles, California, won first place at the 2011 Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship's National Challenge for her idea for patent-pending ecologically conscious dissolvable sugar packets.  Hayley, now CEO of Sweet (dis)SOLVE, started her business as a part of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship’s (NFTE's) business plan competition.
  • Improving the Environment One Community at a Time. Isabel Steinhoff, Rico Bowman, Genevieve Boyle, and Mina Apostadiro, of Kohala Middle School in Kapaau, Hawaii, took first place in the grade 6-8 division of the Siemens “We Can Change the World” Challenge, for their household battery recycling effort to collect 6,000 batteries in 60 days.  The team, named 6000 in 60, embarked on a campaign to improve their community’s use and disposal of batteries by giving local people information on the environmental harm of batteries disposed improperly along with providing local opportunities for recycling.
  • Fifteen-Year Old Student Modeling Brain Control of a Robotic Arm.  Anand Srinivasan, a fifteen-year old sophomore from Roswell High School in Roswell, Georgia, qualified as a top 15 Finalist in the 2011 Google Science Fair.  Anand used data recorded via electroencephalography (EEG) from his brain and, after coupling it with the custom software that he wrote, used it to control a home-built robotic arm.  Anand believes that this technology could be put to use for amputees and patients suffering from paralysis and muscular dystrophy.
  • Team of Girl Scouts Seeking Patent on Prosthetic Hand Device Which Enables a Young Girl to Write.  A group of middle school-aged Girl Scouts from Ames, Iowa, including Gaby Dempsey, Mackenzie Gewell, and Kate Murray developed a patent-pending prosthetic hand device, winning them the inaugural Global Innovation Award at the FIRST LEGO League competition, beating out nearly 200 other submissions.  Their invention was in response to the need of a little old girl in Du luth, Georgia, enabling her to write for the first time although she was bo rn without fingers on her right hand.  Their patent pending BOB-1 has earned the girls the Heartland Red Cross Young Heroes Award, scholarships at Iowa State University College of Engineering, recognition on the Floor of the Iowa and the US House of Representatives, and the title of finalists for the 2011 Pioneer Hi-Bred Iowa Women of Innovation Awards.
  • Using Genes to Improve Farming< /em>.  Dyersburg High School senior, Maryanna McClure, made Tennessee Future Farmers of America history by becoming the first student from the Tennessee FFA Association to win the National FFA Agriscience Fair, placing first in Division II of the Zoology event, for her study of Cotswold sheep genetics.  Maryanna breeds, raises, and markets sheep and their fleece and was inspired to do a project to research how to breed the natural color of sheep back into the industry.  The National FFA Agriscience Fair is a competition for FFA members grade 7-12 who conduct a scientific research project pertaining to the agriculture and food science industries.
  • Young Women Rocketing to Nationals.  Janet Nieto and Ana Karen of Presidio, Texas were members of the Presidio High School Rocketry Team that competed as a National Finalist in the Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) in 2009, 2010, and 2011.  Gwynelle Condino, a 7th grade student at Lucy Franco Middle School, also of Presidio, Texas, is the leader of her TARC team this year.  All three girls have successfully competed in a number of rocketry challenges and have attended the NASA Student Launch Initiative Advanced Rocketry program.
  • High School Student Developing System to Detect Nuclear Threats.  The Davidson Academy of Nevada student Taylor Wilson, 17, of Reno, Nevada conducted research on novel techniques for detecting nuclear threats and developed an environmentally friendly, cost-effective, and highly sensitive system capable of detecting small quantities of nuclear material. Taylor’s system, which won him the Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award and Best of Category in Physics, could be used as a monitor at ports to scan cargo containers for Uraniam-235, Weapons Grade Plutonium, and Highly Enriched Uranium.
  • Young Students Developing a Sanitizing Lunchbox.  Si xth graders Ma’Kese Wesley and Isis Thompson and their LEGO robotics team from the ACE Collegium Campus in Kansas City, Missouri researched ways in which they could improve food safety.  Their invention, a UV-light lunchbox, sanitizes food between when it is packed in the morning and a student opens to eat it at lunchtime.  A UV light, which is turned on by a darkness-detecting sensor when the lunchbox is closed, kills bacteria that could make the food unsafe to eat.  The FIRST LEGO League competition aims to engage kids ages nine to fourteen in engineering.
  • Succeeding at Science Even in Difficult Circumstances: Samantha Garvey, 18, of Bay Shore, New York, attends Brentwood High School -Sonderling Center in Brentwood, New York.  From a field of over 1,800 applicants, Samantha has been named a semifinalist for her Intel Science Talent Search 2012 environmental sciences project examining the effect of physical environment and predators on a specific species of mussel.  Despite personal obstacles, Samantha believes her education will bring her and her family a better life.
  • Student Designing a Robot to Connect Senior Citizens with their Families.  Concerned with the loneliness of seniors at his grandmother’s senior living center, fourteen-year old Salesianum High School (Wilmington, DE) student Benjamin Hylak of West Grove, Pennsylvania, built an interactive robot, which qualified him as a BROADCOM Masters 2011 Finalist.  His telepresence robot which moves around the center and allows seniors to connect via Skype with their family a n d friends when they are unable to visit in person, earned him second place in the BROADCOM Masters Engineering Category.
  • Building an Award-Winning Robot and Learning Entrepreneurial Lessons.   Morgan Ard, Titus Walker, and Robert Knight, III, 8th grade students at Monroeville Jr. High School in Monroeville, Alabama won high honors at the South BEST robotics competition.  BEST teams mimic industry by designing and developing a product and deli vering it to market, including a marketing presentation, engineering notebook, trade-show style exhibit booth and robot competition.   Through the experience, these middle school students not only learned the innovation and engineering  necessary to develop an award-winning robot, but the marketing and business  skills that spark true entrepreneurial spirit.
  • Writing a Video Game that Focuses on Saving the Environment.  Eleven year old Hannah Wyman who attends St. Anna's School in Leominster, Massachusetts, won the grand prize in her age group (9-12) for her video game Toxic, in Microsoft's first-ever U.S.  Kodu Cup. In Hannah’s game, which is now available for free on the Kodu Game Lab site, a player must solve puzzles and collect coins in order to remove soot from trees, zap pollution clouds to clean the air, and convince friends to plant more trees, all in an effort to save the environment.
  • Developing a Portable Disaster Relief Shelter. Jessica D’Esposito, Colton Newton and Anna Woolery from Petersburg, Indiana are representing the Pike Central High School InvenTeam, one of fifteen schools selected nationwide.  They won a grant from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to develop a lightweight, portable disaster relief shelter, designed to be complete with a water purification system and a renewable energy source to power an LED light, which could be used after disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, or tornadoes to house people who have been displaced.
  • Detroit Students Imagining the Energy Efficient City of the Future.  The Paul Robeson/Malcolm X Academy student team from Detroit, Michigan, competed in the Michigan Regional Contest of the National Engineers Week Future City Competition for the second year in a row.  Lucas Cain Beal, Jayla Mae Dogan, and Ashley Cassie Thomas, all aged 13, were part of a team that won the Excellence in Engineering Award at the 2012 Michigan Regional Competition focused on designing a city around the theme of "Fuel Your Future: Imagine New Ways to Meet Our Energy Needs and Maintain a Healthy Planet."   After being named Best Rookie Team in 2011, the students had to overcome losing their school to a fire.  Despite the adversity and having to merge with another school, the students were energized to take on the Future City challenge again, saying “(Future City) helps me make a better city to live in.”
  • Re-Designing a Helmet to Better Protect U.S. Troops.  Eleven-year old Jack Dudley of Stone Hill Middle School and Sydney Dayyani of Belmont Ridge Middle School are members of a Virginia team that designed a military helmet to protect soldiers from traumatic brain injuries on the battlefield due to improvised explosive devices (IEDs).  Both young students have previously competed in national science competitions and this past year won first place in the 2011 Toshiba/NSTA ExploraVision competition with their HEADS UP! Helmet. The helmet is a redesign of the standard-issue military helmet and is equipped with bullet and shrapnel-stopping gels and highly sensitive temperature and air pressure sensors to notify medical personnel of the presence and level of brain injury.
  • Designing a Mine Detecting Device.  Marian Bechtel, a 17-year old Hempfield High School student from Lancaster, Pennsylvania was inspired to take on the serious issue of abandoned landmines which are still found in many place s around the world and investigated an innovative method for safe demining. Mar ian’s design could lead to a simple, cheap, and reliable humanitarian demining tool and earned Marian honors as a Finalist at the 2011 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.  Marian also won a second place award from the American Intellectual Property Law Association, a merit award from the Society of Exploration Geophysicists, a $1,000 award from the U.S. Army, and has recently been name d an Intel Science Talent Search 2012 finalist.
  • Developing A Concussion-Detecting Helmet to Combat Sports Injuries.  Fifteen year old Peninsula High School (Rolling Hill Estates, CA) freshman Braeden Benedict from Rancho Palos Verdes, California developed a low-cost impact detection device for use on youth and high school contact sport helmets.  Braeden’s invention, winning him the top prize of America’s 2011 Top Young Scientist  at the 2011 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, will allow coaches and trainers to be alerted that a player has received a hit with enough force to cause a concussion.
  • Student Programmer Creating Dynamic Educational Video Game.  Jasper Hugunin, a thirteen year old eighth grade student from Island Middle School on Mercer Island, Washington, developed a video game which introduces players to programming concepts as they provide instructions to guide a robot through increasingly challenging mazes.   This clever design of “Robot Commander” won Jasper the Playable Game, Open Platform and Playable Game, and Incorporating STEM Themes categories at the National STEM Video Game Challenge.
  • Exploring Improvements to Cancer Treatments by Overcoming Chemotherapy Resistance.  Shree Bose, a 17-year old senior at Fort Worth Country Day School in Fort Worth, Texas, took top honors at the 2011 Google Science Fair for her discovery of a way to improve ovarian cancer treatment for patients when they have built up a resistance to certain chemotherapy drugs. Her conclusions hold tremendous potential for the improvement of cancer chemotherapy treatment and for future research. Shree has presented her research at numerous international competitions and has been honored as one of Glamour Magazine's 21 Amazing Young Women of 2011, spoken at TEDxWomen 2011, and served as a panelist at Google Zeitgeist.

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 3 2012 | Category: NIH Resources, Science News, Tidbits for Teachers

OSE Women Wear Red to Support Heart Health!As part of its milestone anniversary, The Heart Truth® celebrates its 10th National Wear Red Day® today! To show their support for the campaign, the women of the NIH Office of Science Education are wearing red today to show their support for women's heart health and heart disease awareness.

We encourage women to take a photo of themselves or a group and share their heart health action online.  For more information, visit The Heart Truth’s Facebook pageExternal Web Site Policy. In addition, The Heart Truth will co-host a Twitter chat about heart health with Million Hearts and the American Heart Association from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time.  To join the conversation, follow on Twitter @thehearttruth and look for the hashtag #heartchat.

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 | 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 | December 6 2011 | Category: NIH Resources, Research & Technology, Science News, Tidbits for Teachers

Confocal micrograph of lesions in human cervical epithelium infected with human papilloma virus (HPV16). Early viral proteins (green) bind to and re-orgainse the ketatin filaments (red) towards the edge of the cell. Cell nuclei are stained with Dapi (blue).Have you check out The Cell: An Image LibraryExternal Web Site Policy? It is a freely accessible, easy-to-search, public repository of thousands of reviewed and annotated images, videos, and animations of cells from a variety of organisms, showcasing cell architecture, intracellular functionalities, and both normal and abnormal processes.

This project is supported by an award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, National Institutes of Health, to the American Society for Cell BiologyExternal Web Site Policy.

Above Image:

Confocal micrograph of lesions in human cervical epithelium infected with human papilloma virus (HPV16). Early viral proteins (green) bind to and re-orgainse the ketatin filaments (red) towards the edge of the cell. Cell nuclei are stained with Dapi (blue).

Attribution Non-Commercial; No Derivatives. This image is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial, No Derivatives License. View License DeedExternal Web Site Policy | View Legal CodeExternal Web Site Policy

By: Debbie | November 16 2011 | Category: Issues in Education, Research & Technology, Science News, Scientists in the Community, Tidbits for Teachers

Journal of Emerging Investigators Promotional ImageCalling all future scientists--a group of Harvard University graduate students has created the new Journal of Emerging Investigators (JEI). Students in middle and high school can submit their own original research and review articles to JEI--an open-access journal focused on the natural and physical sciences. Students can learn about the scientific review process and receive feedback from Ph.D. students working in specific areas of research. Top submissions will be accepted for publication in their online journal so that emerging young scientists like you can be recognized and your exciting work can be shared with the public.

JEI is now accepting submissions. You can learn more about this exciting new journal at:  www.emerginginvestigators.orgExternal Web Site Policy.
By: Cynthia | November 4 2011 | Category: NIH Resources, Science News, Tidbits for Teachers

The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) offers free mobile application.

My teenagers can’t imagine life before cell phones, while many of us wouldn’t want to. Such mobile devices are icons of the era, helping us connect with each other, manage tasks, play games, and access all sorts of information. A new application from the NHGRI, the Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms, falls into that last category. It has 200+ genetic terms that you are likely to hear in the news, in a classroom, or even from your health care providers.

Listen as leading NGHRI scientists pronounce and explain each term. Included are photos and short profiles of those scientists. Many terms are accompanied by helpful, colorful illustrations and 3D animations. You can take a quiz to test your knowledge, or suggest a term to a add to the app.

Download your free app at iTunes. It is compatible with iPad, iPhone, and the iPod touch.

Check out the online version of the talking glossary. Pretty soon (by December, we hope!), you’ll be able to see how it is featured in the updated NIH Human Genetic Variation high school curriculum supplement.
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: Debbie | September 16 2011 | Category: Issues in Education, NIH Resources, Research & Technology, Tidbits for Teachers

Intramural NIAID Research Opportunities Image of StudentsThe National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), one of the largest Institutes at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is seeking students with a passion to improve global health in the 21st century through a research career in allergy, immunology, or infectious diseases.

NIAID is looking for applicants for its Intramural NIAID Research Opportunities (INRO) program, which provides an invaluable opportunity for students with strong academic standing who are from populations underrepresented in biomedical research.

Candidates who are college-level seniors, medical school students, or doctoral candidates, and from a population underrepresented in the biomedical sciences are eligible.

During the 4-day program, students will hear lectures from world-renowned scientists and interview for potential research training positions at the Institute’s Maryland and Montana laboratories. This year’s program marks 10 years of INRO and takes place in Bethesda, MD, on the NIH campus, February 6–9, 2012. Students’ expenses for travel, hotel accommodations, and meals will be paid.

You can help us find the best and brightest applicants for INRO 2011 by doing the following:

    Add a link to the INRO program from your Web site.
    Print the program flyer and post it on a bulletin board.
Applications will be accepted from through October 15, 2011. Interested students can apply online through the program’s Web site.

Read success stories from previous INRO participants!
By: Debbie | September 8 2011 | Category: Issues in Education, NIH Resources, Science News, Tidbits for Teachers

High School Student with DNA ModelA new studyExternal Web Site Policy by the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG)External Web Site Policy, the country’s leading genetics scientific society, found that more than 85 percent of states have genetics standards that are inadequate for preparing America’s high school students for future participation in a society and health care system that are certain to be increasingly impacted by genetics-based personalized medicine.

“Science education in the United States is based on testing and accountability standards that are developed by each state,” said Michael Dougherty, PhD, director of education at ASHG and the study’s lead author. “These standards determine the curriculum, instruction, and assessment of high school level science courses in each state, and if standards are weak, then essential genetics content may not be taught.”

According to ASHG’s study, which included all 50 states and the District of Columbia:
  • Only seven states have genetics standards that were rated as ‘adequate’ for genetic literacy (Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington).
  • Of the 19 core concepts in genetics that were deemed essential by ASHG, 14 were rated as being covered inadequately by the nation as a whole (or were absent altogether).
  • Only two states, Michigan and Delaware, had more than 14 concepts (out of 19) rated as adequate. Twenty-three states had six or fewer concepts rated as adequate.
“ASHG’s findings indicate that the vast majority of U.S. students in grade 12 may be inadequately prepared to understand fundamental genetic concepts,” said Edward McCabe, MD, PhD, a pediatrician and geneticist who is the executive director of the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome at the University of Colorado. “Healthcare is moving rapidly toward personalized medicine, which is infused with genetics. Therefore, it is essential we provide America’s youth with the conceptual toolkit that is necessary to make informed healthcare decisions, and the fact that these key concepts in genetics are not being taught in many states is extremely concerning.”

“We hope the results of ASHG’s analysis help influence educators and policy makers to improve their state’s genetics standardsExternal Web Site Policy,” said Dougherty. “Alternatively, deficient states might benefit from adopting science standards from the National Research Council’s Framework for K-12 Science Education, which, although not perfect, does a better job of addressing genetics concepts than most state standards that are currently in place.”

The study was published in the American Society for Cell Biology's External Web Site Policy CBE–Life Sciences Education journal – for a full-text copy of the paper, please go to:

Related NIH Resources:
By: Debbie | August 19 2011 | Category: NIH Resources, Scientists in the Community, Tidbits for Teachers

Kedar Narayan-Chris Stanely-Karen Sillers
We're happy to announce that we've just posted three new video interviews on our LifeWorks Career Exploration Web site. You can watch them with your browser or download them as QuickTime movies.
You can also click on the links here for more information:

Kedar Narayan, Immunologist

Kedar's video and interview
More information about a career as an Immunologist

Chris Stanley, Biomedical Engineer

Chris' video and interview
More information about a career as an Biomedical Engineer

Karen Sillers, Pharmacist

Karen's video and interview
More information about a career as a Pharmacist

More video interviews are in the works.
By: Cindy, Dave | June 14 2011 | Category: NIH Resources, Tidbits for Teachers

The NIH Science Education Resource Group has launched a public competition that seeks to bring hands-on science into classrooms nationwide.

The NIH K–12 Lessons About Bioscience (LAB) Challenge asks teachers, students, parents, scientists, and science enthusiasts to submit their favorite experiments for elementary, middle, and/or high school students. The best experiments will become part of an official collection that NIH will distribute for free in print and electronically. Your experiment could help students everywhere experience the discovery of science!

Experiments form the basis of scientific inquiry but aren’t used often enough in the classroom because of expense, complexity, or time issues. The NIH K–12 LAB Challenge seeks to address this problem by identifying experiments that are engaging and inexpensive to do.

The challenge runs until December 1, 2011, and is open to any resident of the United States or a U.S. territory. Details and entry forms are online.

Help NIH bring engaging and inexpensive experiments into the classroom so everyone can enjoy doing science. Submit your favorite experiments today.
By: Debbie | May 24 2011 | Category: NIH Resources, Tidbits for Teachers

NHGRI LogoThe | National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)External Web Site Policy has officially launched its Facebook page. If you're looking to get more in-depth information about genomics, run over and like them!

And while you're visiting Facebook, don't forget to visit NHGRI's National DNA DayExternal Web Site Policy page too.
By: Dave | May 17 2011 | Category: NIH Resources, Tidbits for Teachers

Brain Basic web siteOur buddies at the NIH National Institute of Mental Health have just released a super cool animated tutorial on the brain.

Brain Basics shows how the brain works, develops, and how changes in function can lead to mental disorders. You can enjoy the tutorial online or download and print the PDF.

While you're on the NIMH website you can also find tons of information on mental health, publications, and the latest research findings.
By: Dave | May 6 2011 | Category: NIH Resources, Tidbits for Teachers

Cover of Evolution and Medicine bookOn Tuesday, May 10, NIH and the National Science Teachers AssociationExternal Web Site Policy will hold a live webinar "Evolution and Medicine - a New Approach to High School BiologyExternal Web Site Policy." This featured activities from a new curriculum supplement for grades 9 -12.

Details and registration info are at the NSTA Learning CenterExternal Web Site Policy.
In this web seminar we will enliven concepts in evolution, such as natural selection and genetic variation, by using current examples in human health and medicine. The discussion will provide you with a new and engaging approach to teaching evolution in the classroom.

This web seminar supports the lessons in the NIH curriculum supplement “Evolution and Medicine,” which was developed by BSCSExternal Web Site Policy and will soon be available for free online.

Other NIH/NSTA web seminars are also archivedExternal Web Site Policy for your enjoyment whenever.
By: Margaret | April 28 2011 | Category: Issues in Education, NIH Resources, Scientists in the Community, Tidbits for Teachers

Don’t miss the chance to hear directly from children’s mental health experts at an upcoming free event that celebrates National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. Watch a videocast to learn about the state of the science in children’s mental health and explore topics ranging from normal brain development to anxiety, bipolar disorder, and ADHD.

What:  Connect the Dots: Understanding Children’s Mental Health Panel
When:  May 3rd from 2:00 to 3:30 PM EST
Where:  By Videocast

The expert panel features Drs. Ellen Leibenluft, Daniel Pine, Jay Giedd, and Benedetto Vitiello and is moderated by Dr. Thomas R. Insel, director of NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

Register to watch the Connect the Dots videocast.
By: Dave | April 26 2011 | Category: NIH Resources, Tidbits for Teachers

Cover of

On Monday, April 25, NIH and the National Science Teachers AssociationExternal Web Site Policy held a live webinar "Using Rare Diseases to Teach Scientific InquiryExternal Web Site Policy." This featured activities from a new curriculum supplement for grades 6 - 8.

Check out the archive now at the NSTA Learning CenterExternal Web Site Policy.
The web seminar shows you how to hone your students’ inquiry skills as they uncover the mysteries of rare diseases, such as Marfan Syndrome, Necrotizing Fasciitis, and leukemia. This “disease detectives” approach engages students in the process of science, allows them to analyze data from different sources and present their findings to others. The discussion integrates principles in life sciences and health for middle school teachers.

This web seminar supports the lessons in the NIH curriculum supplement “Rare Diseases and Scientific Inquiry,” which was developed by BSCSExternal Web Site Policy and will soon be available for free online.

Other NIH/NSTA web seminars are also archivedExternal Web Site Policy for your enjoyment whenever.
By: Gloria, Margaret | April 4 2011 | Category: NIH Resources, Science News, Tidbits for Teachers

Bational Children's Mental Health Awareness Day LogoThis year’s theme is building resilience in young children who are dealing with trauma. The idea behind the Awareness Day campaign is to draw attention to the importance of good mental health for healthy development. We were surprised to find out that last year, people held Awareness Day events at more than 1,000 sites, and almost 11,000 children and youth participated in them! Visit the Awareness Day home page in the coming weeks for updates on how to
  • lead an event,
  • find one in your area, 
  • get helpful resources, and 
  • broadcast timely, useful information through Facebook, tweets, and other social media.
As part of the campaign, one agency is posting information updates online about trauma and resilience in young children. The February update is about children who’ve been exposed to five or more “significant adversities” by the time they’re three years old: three out of four of them will experience delays in cognitive, language, and/or emotional development. “With help from families, providers, and the community, young children can demonstrate resilience when dealing with trauma,” according to the post.  
The March update states, “Studies on the brain show that physical, emotional, or sexual abuse in childhood can cause permanent damage to the brain, reduce the size of parts of the brain, [and] impact the way a child’s brain copes with daily stress, and can result in enduring problems such as depression, anxiety, aggression, impulsiveness, delinquency, hyperactivity, and substance abuse.”   
On the National Institute of Mental Health Web site (NIMH), you can find a booklet for parents on how to help children cope with and identify reactions to violence and disasters. Suggestions include
  • being straightforward about the event,
  • encouraging children to express their feelings, 
  • maintaining routines, and 
  • allowing children to make some basic choices for themselves.
You can also read about results from a recent NIMH study that emphasized the importance of having supportive and functional family relationships during childhood. The researchers found that “negative experiences early in life can have long-lasting effects on physical health, in addition to the known mental health consequences.”

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: Dave | March 21 2011 | Category: NIH Resources, Science News, Tidbits for Teachers

This Thursday, March 24, NIH and the National Science Teachers Association are joining forces to present a live webinarExternal Web Site Policy on the brain and drug addiction. Dr. Rochelle Schwartz-BloomExternal Web Site Policy of Duke University will be presenting the webinar, which starts at 6:30 pm Eastern time. Registration is freeExternal Web Site Policy.

The webinar will take an “outside-in” look at the brain, how it works, and how its function changes in the presence of disease or drugs. The discussion will integrate principles in both biology and chemistry for the high school science teacher. This web seminar supports the lessons in the NIH curriculum supplement The Brain: Understanding Neurobiology Through the Study of Addiction - available for free upon request.

Can't make the March 24 live event? No worries, it'll be archived in the NSTA Learning CenterExternal Web Site Policy.
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: Gloria, Margaret | March 11 2011 | Category: NIH Resources, Science History, Tidbits for Teachers

Images of cover art of Women Are Scientists DVD SeriesSince March is Women’s History Month, we’ve been thinking about our relevant, free resources about women for middle and high school students, including the Women Are Scientists DVD series. Each of the series’ five videos presents three women scientists who discuss the rewards and challenges of their careers and their unique pathways to success. This series is a partnership between the Office of Science Education and the Office of Research on Women's Health.

The Women Are Scientists DVDs reinforce the theme of the Presidential Proclamation of March 2011. President Obama wrote, “As we reflect on the triumphs of the past, we must also look to the limitless potential that lies ahead. To win the future, we must equip the young women of today with the knowledge, skills, and equal access to reach for the promise of tomorrow. My Administration is making unprecedented investments in education and is working to expand opportunities for women and girls in the STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] fields critical for growth in the 21st century economy.”

A favorite DVD, Women Scientists with Disabilities, highlights high-achieving women scientists who made their mark through tenacity, courage, and hard work despite physical handicaps. We loved learning about women like Bertha Melgoza, who lost her sight from a childhood illness and faced a tough future in Mexico. Now she’s a successful clinical psychologist in the United States with a husband, a son, and a full spiritual life.

To learn more about the generations of women who have shaped history, check out

The National Women’s History Museum is featuring a video on the roles American women played in shaping Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day (March 8), now celebrating its 100th anniversary.
By: Dave | March 2 2011 | Category: NIH Resources, Tidbits for Teachers

Logo for NSTA 2011 meeting
Next week a posse of NIH folks will head west for the 2011 National Science Teachers Association ConferenceExternal Web Site Policy in San Francisco. There will be seven different booths in the exhibit hallExternal Web Site Policy. Come by to say hi and check out our latest resources.

We'll have a general science education booth (#1904) with representatives from the Office of Science Education, the Science Education Partnership Awards, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

You'll also be able to check out specific resources at these booths:

We hope to see you in San Francisco March 10th through the 13th!
By: Debbie | March 2 2011 | Category: NIH Resources, Research & Technology, Tidbits for Teachers

The application process is now open for the “2011 National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) Summer Workshop in Genomics.” The popular “Short Course” will be held July 24 – 29, 2011 on the main campus of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD.

This intensive six-day course for educators is designed to update collegiate instructors (biology and related disciplines) on current topics in genetics and genomic science. A majority of the course is researcher-taught affording attendees a unique opportunity to learn from leaders currently working in the field.

Details on course content, educator eligibility, and application guidelines are below. The NHGRI Summer Workshop in Genomics home page includes the 2010 course syllabus, a photograph of the 2010 class, and other helpful materials.

About the NHGRI Summer Workshop in Genomics

This weeklong course is designed to update biology instructors, as well as other instructors and researchers in related disciplines, on genomic science. The course focuses on the continuing effort to find the genetic basis of various diseases and disorders, and current topics on the ethical, legal and social implications of genomics. This course is especially intended for college and university faculty seeking to update their curriculum or to develop new courses related to genetics.

Workshop speakers consist of leading National Institutes of Health (NIH) genomic researchers. The course features extended tours of working laboratories at the NIH, structured lectures, and highly interactive sessions. Sessions on the microbiome, epigenetics, nanotechnology, animal models, current sequencing strategies, grant writing, and similar topics will be part of this year’s course.
Room and board are paid by NHGRI; the participant or the participant’s institution will pay travel costs both to, and from, the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland.


This course is designed to update instructors who (1) train students from racial and ethnic groups underrepresented in health related sciences and instructors from institutions that predominantly train students with disabilities and/or (2) train students from disadvantaged backgrounds including certain rural and inner-city environments.  For specific information on federal guidelines, see Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering and Poverty Guidelines, Research, and Measurement. Instructors from universities and two-and four-year colleges are eligible. 

How To Apply

To apply, email course director Jeffre Witherly, Ph.D., for application materials at

All aspects of the Workshop registration must be completed to be considered in the application process. All applications must be submitted electronically, and will be accepted until 5pm ET on Friday, March 25, 2011. Applicants will be notified of final application status by email by April 1, 2011.  Alumni of the Workshop who attended before 2005 are invited to apply.

More Information

Jeff Witherly, Ph.D.
Senior Advisor
National Human Genome Research Institute
National Institutes of Health
Building 31, Room B1B55
Bethesda, MD 20892

Phone: (301) 402-7333
Fax: (301) 480-3066
By: Cindy, Gloria | February 25 2011 | Category: NIH Resources, Science News, Tidbits for Teachers

It all started at my son’s wedding as I watched one of his groomsmen swaying at the altar, attempting to stay upright. As soon as the ceremony was over, we found him stretched out on a bench in the lobby. What followed was months of recovery, neurological tests, and consultations. He finally got the diagnosis: Parsonage-Turner syndrome, a rare disease of a group of nerves that runs from the spine through the neck and into the arm.

On Monday, February 28, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will celebrate Rare Disease Day. The celebration will be on the main campus in Bethesda, Maryland. Attendance is free and open to the public. It’s one of the many ways NIH draws attention to our country’s 7,000 rare diseases. If fewer than 200,000 people in the U.S. have a disease, we consider it rare. About 80 percent of the rare diseases are genetic, and about half of them affect children.  By raising awareness about these diseases, NIH shines a bright light on these often mysterious and underdiagnosed disorders.

The NIH Offices of Science Education and Rare Diseases Research are looking forward to the summer release of a new curriculum supplement for grades 6 - 8 that explores scientific inquiry through the study of rare diseases. Stay tuned for an announcement of its release in coming months!  

For more information:

Rare Disease Day at NIH

Rare Disease Day all over the world
By: Gloria, Margaret | February 11 2011 | Category: Science and the Arts, Tidbits for Teachers

King George VIWe’re excited about  “The King’s Speech,” a new movie that’s drawing attention to the complexities of stuttering and the availability of hope, treatment, and support. It tells the story of how King George VI, father of England’s Queen Elizabeth, seeks speech therapy for his stuttering and courageously addresses and inspires his country at the onset of WWII. It’s been nominated for a dozen Oscars!

Something else exciting is happening that may begin to lessen some of the misunderstandings around stuttering and open up new treatments. A genetic link to stuttering has been discovered by researchers at NIH’s National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) and published online in the New England Journal of Medicine. The findings suggest that this common speech problem, in some cases, may actually be an inherited metabolic disorder.

 “This is the first study to pinpoint specific gene mutations as the potential cause of stuttering, a disorder that affects 3 million Americans, and by doing so, might lead to a dramatic expansion in our options for treatment,” says James F. Battey, Jr. , director of NIDCD.

One of the authors of the study, Dennis Drayna, recently told elementary school students in a Q&A session, “Stuttering typically starts in young children who are 3 or 4 years old. Most of these children, about 75 to 80 percent, get over stuttering naturally and never stutter again. In the rest of those children, stuttering can go on for years, sometimes for their whole life. But even for those people, speech therapy can be a big help, and sometimes it can help them stop stuttering forever.”  

Check out Dr. Drayna’s full Q & A session and other resources for people who stutter, their families, and teachers (including a free Web-based video and handbook) at The Stuttering Foundation Web siteExternal Web Site Policy.

Here’s more about an important first step in developing a treatment for stuttering:

--Feature story in the NIDCD Newsletter
--NIH Press release
--Study abstract on Pub Med
By: Margaret | February 2 2011 | Category: NIH Resources, Tidbits for Teachers

Two young girls smilingMany of my friends made New Year’s resolutions about losing extra pounds gained over the holidays. I bet few are focusing on the connection between what we eat and our dental health, though. February is a great time to make that connection as it’s National Children’s Dental Health Month. We can all help kids develop good habits now … and teaching them about the science of tooth decay is a good place to start.

There is a tug of war going on inside our mouths. On one team are dental plaque plus food, especially sticky foods and drinks containing sugar. On the other team are the minerals in our saliva plus fluoride from toothpaste, water, and other sources. When we eat or drink something sugary, the bacteria in dental plaque produce acids that begin to eat away at tooth enamel. Frequent exposure to sugar can lead to tooth decay because our mouths have to fight off repeated acid attacks.

But did you know that the tooth decay process can be interrupted and even reversed? Here are some helpful resources about that:

Please help us spread the word about these resources, and let us know if you have some good ones to recommend about preventing tooth decay!
By: Cynthia | January 31 2011 | Category: NIH Resources, Science News, Tidbits for Teachers

image of school tray with fruits and vegtablesResources to help students, families, and communities get fit and make healthier food choices

If you made a New Year’s resolution to exercise more and eat better, then check out some of these great resources to help you reach your goals.

1.    Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announce the release of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. The evidence-based nutrition guidance is offered to promote health, and reduce the risk of disease and the prevalence of obesity.

2.    Michelle Obama started the Let’s Move! campaign to tackle the challenge of childhood obesity by engaging every sector of society into helping kids become more active and eat better. At the Web site, you can:
•    learn the facts about childhood obesity
•    find out how to determine your healthy weight and calculate your body mass index
•    get chef-created recipes, healthy eating tips, and nutrition information
•    learn ways that kids, families, schools, and communities can get active
•    see videos on the Let’s Move! YouTube channel
3.    For the 7th - and 8th -grade classrooms, the NIH has two free curriculum supplements about health and nutrition. Through engaging activities, students can discover how the energy in versus energy out and their own behaviors can affect their health.
•    The Science of Energy Balance: Calorie Intake and Physical Activity
•    The Science of Healthy Behaviors
Best of luck to you as you strive for a healthier life!
By: Cynthia | December 27 2010 | Category: Science History, Science News, Tidbits for Teachers

Against the Odds Exhibit PosterAgainst the Odds:  Making a Difference in Global Health, an exhibit by the National Library of Medicine

As we wrap up the old year and ring in the new this week, many of us share wishes for good health, prosperity, and peace with family and friends around the world. It seems like the perfect time to visit the National Library of Medicine’s latest exhibit, Against the Odds: Making a Difference in Global Health. It’s rich with heart-warming stories about the sometimes challenging but rewarding global efforts to improve the health and well-being of all people.

At the online exhibit,

The physical traveling exhibit is scheduled for various sites around the country through May of 2013. Check the schedule to find out if it’s coming near you.
By: Cynthia | December 7 2010 | Category: Science News, Tidbits for Teachers

pictorial life cycle of bedbugLearn how to deal with bedbugs by using online resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Just the thought of sharing a bed with creepy-crawly critters is enough to give most of us the willies. But with the current epidemic of bedbug outbreaks, it’s becoming a living nightmare for people all across the country. Many of us will be traveling to visit family and friends over the holidays, making this an ideal time to learn how to protect ourselves from these pesky bugs. The CDC and EPA have come up with some great online resources for helping us prevent and deal with infestations, and life science teachers can use the sites to add a timely topic to their core curriculum. 

Experts believe we’re experiencing a resurgence of bedbug outbreaks because people are traveling more, most of us don’t know how to prevent or handle infestations, and the insects are becoming resistant to many pesticides. Bedbugs are a problem, but if we do the right things, we can prevail!
Check out the CDC and EPA resources to learn how to
Let’s enjoy our holiday travels but leave the bedbugs behind!
By: Debbie | December 1 2010 | Category: NIH Resources, Science News, Tidbits for Teachers

World AIDS Day logoAn estimated 1.1 million Americans are living with HIV, and yet one out of five don’t know it. Today (December 1) is World AIDS Day. It is an opportunity for us to take action!
Here are a few simple, powerful, and engaging ways:
  • Share information on Twitter about how you’re taking action for World AIDS Day (and beyond!) Use the official hashtag #WAD2010
  • Follow this blog about World AIDS Day
  • Learn the facts about HIV prevention and diagnosis
  • Learn about the biology of HIV/AIDS
  • To learn more about the scientific research being conducted on HIV/AIDS, visit the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases website.
  • Find HIV/AIDS prevention and service providers
  • Check out the official White House proclamation on World AIDS Day from President Obama.
By: Cynthia | September 7 2010 | Category: NIH Resources, Tidbits for Teachers

boy getting flu shotThe flu season is nearly upon us, and schools across the nation are just getting back in session. It seems like a perfect time to use the seasonal flu as a focus for understanding basic health and science concepts. Consider the questions classrooms can explore:  Where do flu viruses hang out? If you get the flu, how long are you contagious? Why do some people get the flu and others do not? What is the difference between bacteria and viruses? Can you get the flu from the vaccine? Why do some people get the flu even though they got the vaccine?

Students can find answers to these questions and much more at, a Web site managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. At the site you can
  • learn basic facts about seasonal flu
  • find out what to expect for the upcoming 2010-11 season
  • get clear on common misconceptions about the flu
  • track the flu across the United States (the new season tracking starts October 15)
  • watch videos on flu-related topics like vaccine safety
  • explore school resources and checklists for pandemic flu planning
Also check out the activity-rich Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases curriculum supplement for grades 9 – 12. The “Protecting the Herd” activity is a fun way to discover the value of vaccination programs. The unit includes a teachers guide and was developed by the NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
By: Debbie | September 1 2010 | Category: NIH Resources, Tidbits for Teachers

SciLife 2010 PosterIf you are a student, educator, parent or guardian in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, then listen up!  Registration for the 2010 SciLife program starts today.

What is SciLife?

SciLife consists of a variety of workshops designed to help students prepare for college and a successful career in science. High school students, parents, and educators, may attend this free, informational, fun-filled event, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Science Education (OSE) and leaders in science education. This program is intended for 9th through 12th grade students.

  • Get inside information and advice from area leaders in the health and biomedical fields
  • Explore career options in the health and biomedical sciences
  • Get free lunch and college planning and organizational tools
  • Find out which high school classes can improve your options at college entry
  • Learn how to finance an education

When is SciLife?

Date: October 16th, 2010
Time: 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Where will SciLife be held?

L'Enfant Plaza Hotel External Web Site Policy
480 L'Enfant Plaza Southwest
Washington, DC 20024-2253

How do I register for SciLife?

To register, visit the SciLife Web Site
Space is limited and filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Everyone must register. Walk-ins not permitted on the day of the event.
By: Debbie | August 27 2010 | Category: NIH Resources, Tidbits for Teachers

NIDA Back to School LogoStudents and teachers alike are heading back to school, so it’s a good time to instruct youngsters about the dangers of drug abuse.  The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) offers a number of science-based drug abuse education resources to help you get started:

The Brain: Understanding Neurobiology through the Study of Addiction (Grades 9-12)

A teacher’s guide to lessons that include state-of-the art instructional practices about the fundamentals of neurobiology. Students will learn how drugs of abuse change the brain and that drug addiction is a treatable, chronic brain disease.

NIDA for Teens Web Site

An exhaustive set of links to drug education resources including:
  • PEERx—Information, activities, and homework assignments to help teens better understand the harmful effects of prescription drug abuse.
  • Sara Bellum Blog—Written by a team of NIDA scientists, science writers, and public health analysts. Students can connect with the latest scientific research and to help them make healthy, smart decisions.
  • Mind Over Matter Series (Grades 5-9)—Designed to encourage young people to learn about the effects of drug abuse on the body and the brain.
Brain Power! The NIDA Junior Scientist Program (Grades K-9)
  • Brain Power! (Grades K-1)—The program begins with the premise that a group of children has formed a Brain Power! Club that receives missions from NIDA. Each module is built around a mission—a problem or scientific question.
  • Brain Power! (Grades 2-3) — A curriculum consisting of 6 modules that lays the foundation for future scientific learning and substance abuse prevention efforts by providing an early elementary school-age audience with a basis of knowledge and critical thinking skills.
  • Brain Power! (Grades 4-5)—Students explore the processes of science and how to use these processes to learn about the brain, the nervous system, and the effects of drugs on the nervous system and the body. Through hands-on science investigations, a videotape, and supplementary activities that are linked to other areas of the curriculum, students with different learning styles and strengths are given numerous opportunities to grasp the material.
  • Brain Power! (Grades 6-9)—Students explore the processes of science and how to use these processes to learn about the brain, the nervous system, and the effects of drugs on the nervous system and the body. Through the interactive Brain Power! Challenge curriculum, students with different learning styles and strengths are given numerous opportunities to grasp the material.

Heads Up: Real News about Drugs and Your Body (Grades 6-10)

A collection of articles designed to teach students about the repercussions of drug use. These articles were published in Scholastic magazine.

Ask Dr. NIDA

Use this form to email Dr. NIDA with your questions. Dr. NIDA will write back to you with straight answers.

Real Stories

Teens who have struggled with drug addictions share their experiences.

Facts on Drugs

Get the real facts about how different drugs affect the brain and body.

Brain Games

Exercise your brain and test your knowledge of drugs and the way they affect your brain and body. You can join Sara Bellum on her quest or go head-to-head with Dr. NIDA, test your memorization skills with Pick-a-Card, or have fun with the other games on this page.
By: Gina | August 12 2010 | Category: Science History, Tidbits for Teachers

Vegetable garden at Mount Vernon  

Most people don't think of farmers as scientists, but many are. In fact George Washington used science to become a successful farmer. Our first president’s farms in Mount Vernon were outdoor laboratories for testing new farming practices.

In Virginia in Washington’s day, most farmers grew wheat and tobacco for one year each and then let the fields lie fallow for a year. After doing a lot of research on European methods and doing his own controlled experiments, Washington came up with a much more efficient seven year crop rotation. It included wheat and corn, but not tobacco because the British taxed farmers a lot for that. He added clover and grasses to his cycle to replenish the soil and provide grazing material for his livestock. 

It’s hard to imagine farming today without fertilizers, but in Washington’s time fertilizers weren’t always of good quality, were applied haphazardly, and weren't used much, anyway.  Washington worked with manure, creek mud, selected clays, plaster of Paris, and fish heads to create high-quality fertilizers and figured out the best times to apply them. He even designed a "dung repository", thought to be the first in the country. There, he mixed and aged different combinations of fertilizer ingredients for testing.

Our first president was a great innovator. He improved the efficiency of basic farming implements, including the barrel seeder and the plow but his crowning technological achievement was the invention of the 16-sided treading barn for threshing wheat.  Before he built the barn, separating grain from straw had to be done by hand, a slow and backbreaking process.  Wheat could also be "treaded out” by horses, but dirt and horse excrement became mixed in the grain, and it was inefficient because grain was tramped into the ground and ruined if it rained. With the new barn design, grain was threshed more efficiently and it could be done indoors, and (fortunately) the horses weren’t able to contribute any unwanted items to the mixture.

How important were these science experiments? In 1765, before George Washington switched from tobacco farming and adopted his new ideas, he owed money.  By the time he he died in 1799, Washington had estimated his worth at $530,000. This is more than $6 billion in today's currency.  Washington may have been the richest man in American history!

By: Debbie | June 10 2010 | Category: NIH Resources, Tidbits for Teachers

The Brain's Inner Working Cover ImageThe National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has developed the Brain’s Inner Workings: Activities for Grades 9 through 12, a comprehensive collection of multimedia resources and inquiry-based activities to help teachers and students learn about the structure, function and cognitive aspects of the human brain. All activities are tied to the National Science Education Standards. 

The educational packet includes:
  • A Teacher’s Manual, with content background and a proposed pedagogy for the use of the material;
  • A Student Manual that includes both comprehensive text and activities;
  • Two outstanding video supplements from NIMH—The Brain’s Inner Workings I: Structure and Function, which introduces the structure of the nervous system and the role of neurotransmitters in health and disease; and The Brain’s Inner Workings II: Cognition, which demonstrates how neurons work together through state-of-the-art animation.
  • Student activities to complement the visuals on the NIMH videos;
  • Formative and summative assessments;
  • Additional resources on CD including animations provided by the National Science Teachers Association, and a short computer program called “React,” which can be used to support the laboratory activities in the Student Manual or to help students extend their understanding by conducting independent research of their own.
The Brain’s Inner Workings ties together lessons about the human brain with activities designed to help students better understand brain disease and mental illnesses.

You can access most of the Brain’s Inner Workings online. For best results, however, order a free hard copy packet that includes the manuals, a DVD and a CDROM that includes all the supplemental materials plus pdfs of the manuals that can be printed and copied.

Written by Colleen Labbe, NIMH
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 19 2010 | Category: Issues in Education, Tidbits for Teachers

Image of entrance to RAMSIf you are one of the ~240 students who go to Starmont High School in Arlington, Iowa you may think you are pretty lucky.  You have the luxury of a small school in a great setting and a wealth of opportunities to take courses for college credit.  What, you say? How can a school with only 240 students make that happen?  The smart way.  By taking advantage of the nearby Regional Academy for Math and ScienceExternal Web Site Policy, or RAMS.

RAMS is a state-of-the art facility that gives high school kids the chance to take high level hands-on physics and engineering classes.  (Biology classes are coming next.) Many students who attend RAMS earn either AP credit or credit at Northeast Iowa Community CollegeExternal Web Site Policy.

Located in Oelwein, Iowa, RAMS is a stones throw away-at least by rural Iowa standards-from seven school districts, including Starmont.  All of these districts have been invited to send students to the academy.  So far, two years after it opened its doors, four have accepted.

RAMS isn’t the permanent home of any of the students. Instead students are shuttled out or drive themselves to the school a couple of times a week. The 20-30 minute rides are worked into the students’ schedules by scheduling RAMS periods adjacent to their free period.  RAMS also offers early morning classes to accommodate some students and students can video link in on days when they aren’t doing hands-on experiments. 

Why is this a big deal? Data in the Annual Condition of Iowa’s Community Colleges 2009External Web Site Policy report show that a degree from a community college pays off, and certain program areas pay off more than others.  The career and technical programs with the highest rate of return included science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.  Moreover, the idea for the academy grew out of brainstorming at the local economic-development group as a way to attract high-tech businesses to the area.  A skilled workforce will certainly help. 

By: Debbie | May 6 2010 | Category: NIH Resources, Tidbits for Teachers

Many mental disorders have their beginnings in childhood or adolescence. The National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey found that 13 percent of children ages 8 to 15 had at least one mental disorder, a rate comparable to diabetes, asthma, and other diseases of childhood. Yet, mental disorders often go undiagnosed and untreated for years.

The NIH has created a curriculum supplement, The Science of Mental Illness, for grades 6-8 that is designed to help students gain insight into the biological basis of mental illnesses and how scientific evidence and research can help us understand its causes and lead to treatments and, ultimately, cures. The Science of Mental Illness includes the following lessons and major concepts:
  • The Brain: Control Central  -- The brain is the organ that controls feelings, behaviors, and thoughts, and changes in the brain’s activity result in long- or short-term changes to these.
  • What’s Wrong? -- Mental illnesses such as depression are diseases of the brain.
  • Mental Illness: Could It Happen to Me? -- Though everyone is at risk, factors such as genetics, environment, and social influences determine a person’s propensity to develop a mental illness.
  • Treatment Works! -- Medications and psychotherapies are among the effective treatments for most mental illnesses.
  • In Their Own Words -- Includes a fascinating video of students discussing how mental illness affects their lives and how their illnesses are treated so that they can function effectively.
  • You’re the Expert Now -- Learning the facts about mental illness can dispel misconceptions.
You can access the Science of Mental Illness online, and teachers can request a free print version.

More Information about Children's Mental Health Awareness Day from the National Institute of Mental Health

Children's Mental Health Awareness Day
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Resources (includes podcasts and transcripts)
By: Cindy | April 20 2010 | Category: NIH Resources, Tidbits for Teachers

Alcohol Awareness Month imageIt’s also National Arab American Heritage, Autism, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Manatee, Marching Band, Occupational Therapy, Parkinson’s Disease, Pet First Aid, Poetry, Stress, and Workplace Conflict Awareness Month, not to mention National Anxiety, Child Abuse Prevention, Humor, and Welding Month.

But let’s get back to alcohol. Singling out a month for alcohol awareness began in 1987. It would be a way to encourage communities to focus on alcohol-related problems, according to the founding organization, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD)External Web Site Policy. Many people are affected by alcoholism besides the alcoholic, and raising awareness about that helps support the alcoholic’s loved ones. Alcohol plays a leading role in our most difficult social problems, including crime, homelessness, teen pregnancy, and domestic violence.

NCADD was founded in 1944 by the first female member of Alcoholics AnonymousExternal Web Site Policy. The organization is dedicated to lowering the stigma surrounding substance abuse. April’s awareness theme this year is “When Love Is Not Enough: Helping Families Coping with Alcoholism.”

April 8 was National Alcohol Screening Day. At sites across the country, people were offered information, screening questionnaires, and a chance to talk with substance abuse and treatment professionals. If you missed it, check for the date early next year.

Our office develops curricula about science that draw on the research being done by NIH investigators, and the one called Understanding Alcohol: Investigations into Biology and Behavior is one of my favorites. It’s a collection of six lessons for middle school science classes that take about seven class periods to complete. The background materials for teachers, handouts for students, and a Web site with interactive activities were developed and nationally field-tested, along with the lessons, over the course of two years.

The tone of our curricula is objective, not proscriptive, and they’ve all been aligned with state and national science standards. Students learn not only about the biology of alcohol in the human body and it social consequences in this module. They also get to work in groups, develop reasoning skills, summarize their findings, and problem solve – all essential skills nowadays.

If you use our curricula, we would love to get your feedback!

NCADD Web Site Policy

About Alcohol Awareness Month
Frequently Asked Questions about Alcohol and Health nglish/
By: Gloria | April 9 2010 | Category: NIH Resources, Science News, Scientists in the Community, Tidbits for Teachers

DNA Day LogoHave you ever wanted to talk directly to the top minds in the field of genomics research? Well, get your thoughts in order and get those questions lined up because you will have the chance to chat one-on-one with experts in celebration of National DNA Day.

According to Carla Easter, Ph.D., science education specialist at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), genomics and genetics experts will be available at the DNA Day Chatroom on Friday, April 23, from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EDT to answer questions from students, teachers, and the general public on topics such as basic genetics research, the genetic basis of disease, and ethical questions about genetic privacy. Transcripts from previous DNA Day chatrooms are also available on the NHGRI Web site.

One of my favorite exchanges from last year was, “What would someone do after getting their undergraduate degree if they were inclined to study DNA or genetics?” Current NHGRI director, Eric Green, offered up a list of options:

  • Get a job working in a genetics laboratory.
  • Become a genetics counselor.
  • Get a Ph.D. and become a genetics researcher.
  • Get an M.D. and become a medical geneticist.
  • Become a computer scientist and help us interpret information about our genomes.

In the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, 35 NHGRI scientist ambassadors will be visiting schools through May to talk about job opportunities in genomic research. They will also help students plan their professional careers in genetics and genomics. For more information on potential careers in genomic sciences visit NHGRI's Genomic Careers Web Site.

The American Society for Human Genetics (ASHG) is sponsoring a variety of events that help K-12 students, teachers, and the public learn more about how genetics and genomics affect their lives. You can visit the ASHG DNA Day pageExternal Web Site Policy for more information about ASHG-sponsored activities.

What are you doing for DNA Day this year?
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: Dave | March 18 2010 | Category: NIH Resources, Tidbits for Teachers

Logo for 2010 NSTA conference It's that time of the year. The National Science Teachers Association Annual ConferenceExternal Web Site Policy is happening in Philadelphia, and NIH will be there. Here's where you can find us:

Featured Panel: Gathering Storm or Gathering Cobwebs? What Is the Federal Response to the Science Education Crisis?
Friday, March 19 1:30–3:00 PM
The federal government annually invests $140 billion in science and technology, with more than $3 billion going to programs for science education and training. Yet most experts would agree with the conclusions found in the National Academies of Science’s Rising Above the Gathering Storm (2007) report that other nations are catching up to and/or surpassing the U.S. in our efforts to educate and train the next generation of highly technical workers. These conclusions have been the subject of sharp policy debates in Washington. One element of that debate has focused on the results of the federal investment. This panel will explore the effectiveness of the current federal investment and whether or not the federal government could improve its investment strategy in science education.
Moderator: Francis Q. Eberle (NSTA Executive Director)
Presenters: Bruce Fuchs (NIH), Bill Valdez (Dept. of Energy); Cora Marrett (National Science Foundation); Joyce Winterton (NASA); Bob McGahern (Dept. of Defense); Louisa Koch (NOAA); Donald Zink (FDA); and Michael Lach (Dept. of Education)

Free Online Teaching Resources from the National Institutes of Health
Friday, March 19 3:30–4:30 PM
Philadelphia Marriott, Franklin 8
Free online materials from NIH focusing on medically relevant life sciences include interactive games, image galleries, stories, and the opportunity to submit questions to scientists.
Presenter: Alisa Z. Machalek (National Institute of General Medical Sci.: Bethesda, MD)

Exploring Bioethics: A New Model for High School Instruction
Saturday, March 20 9:30–10:30 AM
Philadelphia Marriott, Franklin 1
Engage students in a new approach to examining biomedical practices, such as genetic testing, and developing their own well-justified positions on the ethical issues involved.
Presenter: Dave Vannier (National Institutes of Health: Bethesda, MD)
Examining the Bioethics of Animals in Research
Saturday, March 20 12:30–1:30 PM
Philadelphia Marriott, Franklin 1
Examine the ethics of genetically modifying animals for human gain. Respect and harms/benefits are presented in a new model for teaching bioethics in high school.
Presenter: Dave Vannier (National Institutes of Health: Bethesda, MD)
By: Debbie | March 15 2010 | Category: NIH Resources, Tidbits for Teachers

Household Cleaning ProductsIn just five days, spring will officially arrive. I don’t know about you, but I am ready to enter into a season of renewal. I plan to focus on my out-with-the-old and in-with-the-new Spring-cleaning ritual. Some of the not-so-fun tasks ahead include, cleaning out my garage, and my over-stuffed craft and kitchen cabinets. Many items have been in there so long, they are starting to rust and leave nasty residues. I have motor oil, antifreeze, fertilizer, paint, solvents, stain removers, and home office supplies that I no longer use. What am I supposed to do with them? How do I dispose of them safely, without harming the environment?

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) has a Web site that can help me and other spring cleaners out there. The NLM’s Household Products Database links over 9,000 consumer products. It allows you to research products based on chemical ingredients and is designed to help answer the following typical questions:
  • What are the chemical ingredients and their percentage in specific brands?
  • Which products contain specific chemical ingredients?
  • How do I handle and dispose of specific products?
  • Who manufactures a specific brand? How do I contact this manufacturer?
  • What are the acute and chronic health effects of chemical ingredients in a specific brand?
  • What other information is available about chemicals in the toxicology-related databases of the National Library of Medicine?
If you are a spring cleaner, or a teacher or student looking for in-depth information on specific products, or environmental health and toxicology information, these NLM links can help.

Now… get cleaning!

High School and Adults
Elementary and Middle School
Other Helpful Links
By: Debbie | November 25 2010 | Category: Tidbits for Teachers

DNA Day LogoNational DNA Day commemorates the completion of the Human Genome Project in April 2003 and the discovery of the double helix of DNA in 1953. In commemoration of National DNA Day, the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) invites you to participate in the 5th Annual DNA Day Essay Contest External Web Site Policy!

The contest is open to students in grades 9th - 12th. The winning student will receive $400 and the teacher will receive a $2000 grant for laboratory genetics equipment.

Please visit ASHG DNA Day 2010 for the essay questions, rules and more information. The submission site goes live in January 2010 and the deadline is March 15, 2010 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern. International submissions are welcome.
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 22 2010 | Category: Tidbits for Teachers

Miss Iowa and students at Coe College, I admit, the last time I paid any attention to the Miss America contest I was about 7 years old - even though my cousin became Miss Moline (Illinois) somewhere along the way. Well, something happening in Iowa has made me take note this year.

You see I recently got an email telling me about Anne Langguth’s work. Who is Anne Langguth? She is a Harvard graduate who majored in government and pre-medicine who will be attending medical school at the University of Iowa this fall, and is – oh by the way – Miss Iowa.

Since being crowned in June 2009, she's traveled throughout the state to support initiatives that promote academic success and wellness.  According to Langguth with her "…Miss Iowa crown as a microphone, I look forward to the opportunity to promote both healthy lifestyles and engagement in the sciences with citizens of our state." She has even teamed up with the University of Iowa Hygienic Laboratory to serve as its Environmental and Public Health Ambassador to raise awareness of a looming shortage in public health workers.

That’s my kind of Miss America! So this year I am definitely rooting for Miss Iowa.
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: Dave | November 30 2009 | Category: Tidbits for Teachers

Graphic of cover to 2008 National Science Foundation report on cyberlearningIt seemed like I couldn't walk out the door this past year without someone mentioning cyberlearning. According to the 2008 report from the National Science Foundation, cyberlearning is "the use of networked computing and communications technologies to support learning." OK, that report came out in 2008, and I admit that it took me a year to realize what was going on.

Last month I attended the annual meetingExternal Web Site Policy of the National Science Digital LibraryExternal Web Site Policy, or the "NSDL" for short. The NSDL has undergone some big changes in the past year, all of which are intended to make it more useful to the classroom teacher. As you guessed, cyberlearning was a big focus of the meeting. I was impressed by the scope of the projects presented, all of which are searchable and findable through the NSDL.

As the Office of Science Education looks to 2010, we'll be aiming at smarter ways of incorporating technology into our educational programs. 

Stay tuned... and Happy New Year!

By: Debbie | December 18 2009 | Category: NIH Resources, Tidbits for Teachers

Zebra FinchWhen my children were little, we used clay impression kits to immortalize their handprints and create cute wall hangings as gifts for their grandparents. As they pressed their little hands into the clay, it changed shape in response to the pressure. In much the same way, our brains are formed and molded in response to various stimuli. Scientists call it brain plasticity. The brain is changeable, or plastic, because new experiences can re-wire its circuitry, setting up new connections among neurons.

Sarah BottjerExternal Web Site Policy, a neuroscientist at the University of Southern California, conducts research on brain plasticity by studying songbirds. Baby songbirds learn to sing the same way that human infants learn to mimic their parents' speech. Through trial and error, they eventually master the syllables and rhythms of their parents' vocalizations.

Scientists use the zebra finch as an animal model because its songs can be easily recorded and compared to brain activity. The zebra finch always sings the same short song, making it simple to study in detail. Songbirds were initially used to study speech perception and production in humans, but they are also promising models for studying many other complex human behaviors.

Learn more about Dr. Bottjer and how zebra finches are being used in medical research at the National Institutes of Health Web site, Animals in Research.
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: Dave | October 9 2009 | Category: Science and the Arts, Tidbits for Teachers

Cover from I just came across a nice articleExternal Web Site Policy by Randy OlsonExternal Web Site Policy, a scientist-turned-filmmaker, on harnessing the power of storytelling in science. He's not talking about spinning tall tales, but framing research as a narrative. The article appears online at The Scientist.ComExternal Web Site Policy. He brings out an important point: "Great stories and great scientific investigations are built around great questions."

I could have used that kind of guidance in graduate school. To often, the only question I'd have during a research seminar was "When will this end?"

Speaking of good questions, we have an NIH curriculum supplement for middle school that addresses just that. "Doing Science" is all about the process of inquiry and getting students to ask testable questions. You can check it out now online and request a copy, too. Many science teachers across the country use these lessons to start off their school year. There's no need to wait until graduate school to learn how to ask good questions that will lead you to a great story.
By: Cindy | September 18 2009 | Category: Tidbits for Teachers

I think it’s safe to say that DeLeon Gray already knows more about the role of motivation in learning and in choosing a career in science than everyone else in the office combined! He’s in his third year of a Ph.D. program in Educational Psychology at The Ohio State University. He spent about eight weeks with us this summer studying and evaluating the ways OSE programs increase students’ interest in science and then suggesting how to make the programs even more effective.
When I asked DeLeon what his work has to say to middle and high school teachers, he had these research-based suggestions:

  • Stress mastery of the material rather than performance on tests. When students really want to master a subject, they’re more likely to persevere with challenging schoolwork, for example.
  • Offer students choices within certain guidelines rather than insisting on rigid adherence to one approach. For example, you might ask students to research a given topic and then give them the choice to report their results in a written report, on a homemade video, or through a poem or song. 
  • Help students feel something about the material as they’re learning it. They’ll learn it better that way. Humans recall events (and lessons) much better if they are tied to their emotions than if they aren’t.

For scholarly information on motivation research, check out:
For further reading, check out:

Classroom Motivation External Web Site Policy , a book recently written by Eric and Lynley Anderman (Educational Psychology Professors at The Ohio State University). This book is geared towards teachers (and those entering the teaching profession).
By: Debbie | September 1 2009 | Category: Science and the Arts, Tidbits for Teachers LogoAn expert panel at has picked the finalists for its 2009 flu prevention public service announcement (PSA). Vote now to choose the winner!

Now through September 16th, you can vote for your favorite video and help decide which PSA is the most effective. The winner gets $2,500 and is featured on national television.
By: Bonnie | August 14 2009 | Category: NIH Resources, Tidbits for Teachers


New and innovative kindergarten through 12th grade curriculum units – Diabetes-based Education for Tribal Schools (DETS):  Health is Life in Balance – are now available for schools across the country! The curricula results from a unique collaboration of eight tribal colleges and universities with funding by the National Institutes of Health, the Indian Health Service, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The curricula integrates science and Native American traditions to educate students about science, diabetes and its risk factors, and the importance of nutrition and physical activity for maintaining a healthy balanced life. Their inquiry-based approach builds research skills in observation, measurement, prediction, experimentation, and communication. They incorporate healthy lifestyle messages and engaging science activities for all students. Each unit is aligned with national science, health, and social studies education standards making it easier to incorporate into an established curriculum. 

The units were designed and extensively tested by staff from the eight tribal colleges and universities, who worked with 63 teachers and 1,500 students in schools across 14 states from Alaska to Florida. Both American Indian and Alaska Native and non-American Indian and Alaska Native teachers and students participated.

Curriculum evaluations revealed:

  • Pre-to-post student achievement gains at all three grade-level bands (elementary, middle, and high school)
  • Teachers found that the curriculum was easy to use, more engaging than similar curricula, and had strong Native American content
  • Students thought the curriculum was "just right": not too hard but not too easy

Read more about recent professional development activities related to these units in this Salt Lake Tribune articleExternal Web Site Policy.
By: Gina | July 31 2009 | Category: Research & Technology, Science News, Tidbits for Teachers

Physician vaccinating a patientProbably everyone reading this has had the flu at least once in their lifetime.  The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect 5-20% (that is as many as 1 out of 5 people) of people in the U.S. each year.  Is it serious?  More than 200,000 people are hospitalized and about 36,000 people die yearly from the flu. 

The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccination each year.  Unfortunately, many of us don't know where to get vaccinated, forget about it, or are simply more afraid of shots than the flu. (A big mistake!) Undoubtedly, a lot more people would be vaccinated if, like tetanus vaccinations, we only had to get a shot every ten years or so.  So why can't we? 

Normally when we are vaccinated, we are injected with small parts of molecules called 'epitopes'.  Our immune system responds by making 'memory cells' that specifically recognize those epitopes.  At a second encounter with that epitope, these memory cells help the body mount a much stronger and quicker immune response than the first time.  Thus, after a flu vaccination, when the real flu virus tries to attack, our memory cells go to work and usually stop it before we feel sick.  

Unfortunately, unlike tetanus which is caused by a single bacterium, flu can be caused by two different families of viruses (called group 1 and group 2).  Worse, within these families are many different subtypes each of which has different epitopes.  Because of this, every year, scientists have to make some informed guesses as to which type of flu will be common next year and then make the appropriate vaccine.

A discovery by a group of scientists in the United States and another group from Europe and Hong Kong may make the '10 year flu vaccine' a reality.  These scientists identified an epitope that appears to be common to the members of the group 1 influenza virus family.  Using this epitope, a vaccine was made that was able to prevent death in mice that were challenged with lethal doses of flu viruses.  It even protected them against the H5N1 'bird flu' virus

Hopefully vaccines generated by this epitope will be potent enough, that a single vaccination given every few years will be enough to protect us against all group 1 influenza viruses.  Now if scientists can just find a common epitope for group 2!

Jianhua Sui, William C Hwang, et al.  Nature Structural & Molecular Biology 16, 265 - 273 (2009) Structural and functional bases for broad-spectrum neutralization of avian and human influenza A viruses

Mark Throsby, Edward van den Brink, et al.  PLoS ONE 3(12): e3942. (2008). Heterosubtypic Neutralizing Monoclonal Antibodies Cross-Protective against H5N1 and H1N1 Recovered from Human IgM+ Memory B Cells
By: Dave | July 28 2009 | Category: NIH Resources, Science and the Arts, Science History, Tidbits for Teachers

Harry Potter's World homepageI was surfing the NIH National Library of Medicine's Website looking for visitor information, when I stumbled onto:

Harry Potter's World - Renaissance Science, Magic, and Medicine

Even if you haven't seen the latest movie, this online exhibit provides an interesting contrast between life at Hogwarts and the science of the 15th and 16th Centuries.

There are resources for teachers, too.

This exhibit will be traveling to librariesExternal Web Site Policy nationwide from September 2009 to January 2011, hopefully to a location near you.

BTW - if you're in the DC area, there are three more chances to see this sort of science fact versus movie fiction discussion live at Science in the Cinema.
By: Dave | July 21 2009 | Category: NIH Resources, Tidbits for Teachers

Cover image of The Brain: Understanding Neurobiology Through the Study of AddictionSpeaking of NIH curriculum supplements for high school, we are POISED to reprint the updated 2009 version of The Brain: Understanding Neurobiology Through the Study of Addiction.

This popular set of lessons has been out-of-print for nearly a year.

For the 2009 addition we've made the following changes:
  • The multimedia student activities are now online only. The lesson plans were re-written with Web access instructions. A CD-ROM will no longer come with the printed supplement.
  • Lesson Organizers have been added. These are brief overviews of the activities to use as a reminder while you're teaching.
  • The background sections on addiction research have been updated, and new resources and references are listed.
We'll start taking orders for the new addition when we get a due date from the printer...probably in September or October.

If you already have a copy of The Brain ... Addiction, don't freak. We're working on a short PDF file you can download with the updates. The teacher background and support materials are improving. The student lessons and worksheets are remaining the same.
By: Dave | July 17 2009 | Category: NIH Resources, Tidbits for Teachers

Cover of Exploring Bioethics curriculum supplement The long awaited Exploring Bioethics curriculum supplement for high school is finished. The final version is on its way to the printers. We'll start taking orders on August 3 and expect the first copies to start rolling out of our Rockville warehouse in mid August. That's mid August 2009, really. We're still working on the Website and hope to have that up in the fall.

What is Exploring Bioethics, you ask?

This FREE resource from NIH and EDCExternal Web Site Policy is a teacher’s guide to six three-day lessons on the ethical considerations of real-world life science. Students use an innovative model to formulate and justify positions on topical bioethical issues while building inquiry, critical thinking, and teamwork skills. Topics include:
  • Enhancements in Sports
  • Vaccination Policies for Schools
  • Allocation of Organs for Transplant
  • Genetic Testing
  • Human Subject in Medical Research
  • Human Use of Animals in Research and Beyond
Exploring Bioethics will be available in print for folks in the U.S. and posted online in HTML and PDF formats for everybody everywhere.

You can experience some of these lessons right now by viewing two Webinars we conducted this spring with the National Science Teachers AssociationExternal Web Site Policy. The Webinars are archived at the NSTA Learning CenterExternal Web Site Policy.
By: Gina | June 12 2009 | Category: Science News, Tidbits for Teachers

I'm Gina, a research scientist working in the Office of Science Education. I believe that we are all scientists! I will be highlighting people we don't normally think of as "scientists" who have had a huge impact on science. Perhaps you can tell me about people you know who have used science to make life in the classroom or at home a bit easier. Stay tuned for my White House series on how U.S. presidents have contributed to the advancement of science in the own unique ways. I will try to keep you in-the-know about some of the newest scientific discoveries and what they might mean so that you can dazzle friends and neighbors with you science knowledge. You can use today's tidbit for that!

Eye looking through window blindsDNA evidence gathered from a crime scene may be great to convict a suspected criminal, but what if you don't have a suspect? Scientists in the Netherlands have taken a first step in solving that problem. They have developed a method to predict eye color based on DNA. Other scientists are working to develop more reliable methods for determining hair and skin color. Combining these new methods with other established methods for inferring a person’s geographical origin could provide law enforcement with a powerful tool to identify an unknown suspect.

The method has a number of other applications, notably, as a way to predict susceptibility to diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers, which are influenced by numerous genes.

Of course, a lot of work still needs to be done yet to turn this into reality. Web Site Policy

Liu, F. et al. Curr. Biol. 19, R192–R193 (2009).

By: Dave | June 10 2009 | Category: NIH Resources, Research & Technology, Tidbits for Teachers

Screen shot of interactive health tutorial on asthma at MedlinePlus.govWe often get requests from educators for videos and multimedia on specific health topics. Our buddies at the NIH National Library of Medicine have assembled a whole ton of online, interactive health tutorials on their MedlinePlus Website.

Topics range from acne, anthrax, and asthma to tuberculosis, varicose veins, and warts. They're organized as Diseases and Conditions, Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, Surgery and Treatment Procedures, and Prevention and Wellness.

There are over 100 tutorials posted!
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