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December 20, 2016


In This Issue:
Photos from NABT2016 Posted
Michael Ralph Receives 2016 Genetics Education Award
Bill McComas Named AAAS Fellow
More Dates Announced for 2017 AP Biology Teacher Academies
PALM Network Opportunity to Support Vision and Change
Apply Today for 2017 Project Dragonfly Programs
Scholarships Available for 2017 Educator Academy in the Amazon
Still Time to Join NABT & Save


Photos from NABT2016 Posted

We had a great time in Denver, and have the photos to prove it! Pictures from the conference have been posted at NABT2016 Photos. Honors Luncheon photos are also available at 2016 Honors Luncheon. Be sure to check out the photos that were posted on Facebook and Twitter using #NABT2016 as well!


Michael Ralph Receives 2016 Genetics Education Award

As research continues to push the frontiers of biology, the explosion of discoveries in genetics is daunting for even the most experienced scientists. How are biology teachers supposed to keep up? How are their students?

Mr. Michael Ralph, the winner of the 2016 NABT Genetics Education Award, takes a “two domain approach.” For Michael, teaching genetics means that students must be capable of describing genetics on a molecular level as well as applying that knowledge to real world problems. This dual focus infuses everything in his genetics curriculum, from analytics using BLAST data sets, to the biotechnology procedures learned by his students, and finally the experiments and projects these students design using their molecular and technical knowledge.

Michael’s Genetics and Biotechnology course at Olathe East High School in Olathe, Kansas found its start in the popular Biotechnology Club Michael launched in 2012. The club was formed to offer students the opportunity to conduct college level research in a high school setting, eventually becoming popular enough for Michael to convince his administration to offer the course during school hours.

Each semester, Michael’s students explore topics for the projects they will design and pursue throughout the term. These authentic research experiences produce authentic results; results that are then presented to faculty at Johnson County Community College. The experience of defending their own research is invaluable to the students, helping them learn from experts and from each other.

“Projects involving GMO technology, genetic sequencing, exotic culturing techniques and protein modeling are complex and challenging; I believe any student interested can make a meaningful contribution and grow from their experience.”

The collaborative approach to learning Michael cultivates for his students is one he uses for his own development as an educator. A 2009 graduate of the UKanTeach program at the University of Kansas, Michael continues to be mentor within the program. Michael also has a Masters in Chemical and Life Science from the University of Maryland and received Master Teacher recognition from the Concord Consortium. He serves as a consultant for AP Insight from the College Board, is the treasurer of the Kansas Association of Biology Teachers (KABT), and is an author of Biology Rocks. He has presented at the NABT Professional Development Conference as well as NSTA Regional and National Conferences. Michael was named the Kansas Association of Teachers of Science Outstanding Teacher for Region I in 2011 and was named the NABT Outstanding Biology Teacher for Kansas in 2014.

In addition to teaching Genetics and Biotechnology at Olathe East, Michael also teaches 9th Grade General Biology and AP Biology. Michael’s students share a little friendly competition and vie for the “Finch Trophy” with the AP Biology Students at Dodge City High School. That course just happens to be taught by fellow award-winning teacher (and Michael’s mother), Shannon Ralph.

Michael Ralph recognizes that not all of his students will become geneticists. But they will become citizens who need to be able to make informed decisions in a world of rapid discovery. “In a time when biotechnology and genetics are experiencing exciting growth and development, we must prepare our students to become creative problem solvers,” said Michael. We agree completely, and are honored to recognize Mr. Michael Ralph with the 2016 NABT Genetics Education Award.

The 2016 Genetics Education Award is sponsored by


Bill McComas Named AAAS Fellow

NABT is proud to announce that Dr. William F. McComas has recently been elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Selection as a Fellow honors AAAS members whose efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications in service to society have distinguished them among their peers and colleagues.

“Being elected a Fellow in a major scientific society such as AAAS is a wonderful honor for an educator, and is particularly appropriate as it recognizes that scientific discovery and education are inexorably intertwined,” McComas said in a statement. “We in science education are charged with translating the work of those engaged in scientific research to inform classroom teachers at all levels, help prepare the next generation of scientists, and assist in communicating the results of science to enlighten the public and inform decision-makers.”

McComas holds the Parks Family Endowed Professorship in Science Education at the University of Arkansas College of Education and Health Professions, where he also directs the Project to Advance Science Education.

He is the current editor of The American Biology Teacher, and has served in numerous leadership roles within NABT, NSTA, the International History, Philosophy and Science Teaching Group, and the Association for Science Teacher Education (ASTE). He is a recipient of the Outstanding Evolution Educator and Research in Biology Teaching awards from NABT, the Ohaus award for Innovations in College Science Teaching and the ASTE Outstanding Science Teacher Educator award. He has written and edited several books including The Nature of Science in Science Education: Rationales and Strategies and the Language of Science Education, numerous book chapters and articles. He was also a Fulbright Fellow at CASTeL, the Centre for the Advancement of Science and Mathematics Teaching and Learning at Dublin City University, Ireland.

McComas was selected as a Fellow of the AAAS Education Section for his “distinguished contributions to science education through the preparation of future teachers and researchers, service to biology education as a journal editor and evolution advocate.” He will be inducted with this year's other AAAS Fellows in February during the 2017 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts.


More Dates Announced for 2017 AP Biology Teacher Academies

More dates and locations for the 2017 NABT / BSCS AP Biology Teacher Academies have been announced. These programs were developed by NABT, BSCS and HHMI’s BioInteractive to support a new generation of leaders in biology education.

Participants will:

  • strengthen how they teach their course so students learn more meaningful biology and are more interested in studying biology in the future;
  • use the practices of science to help students learn big ideas and unifying concepts of biology;
  • analyze and enhance their current curriculum materials to better reflect the AP Curriculum Framework;
  • learn to use formative and summative assessment information to examine what their students understand; and
  • develop a network of fellow biology teachers that supports excellence in biology teaching.

This program was developed for AP Biology Teachers, but all biology teachers are welcome to attend, including those teaching at both the high school and undergraduate level.

Dates and locations include:

June 25 – 30, 2017
Great Lakes Biology Teacher Academy @ Buffalo State University
Buffalo, NY

June 25 – 30, 2017
Florida Regional AP Biology Teacher Academy @ Saint Stephen's Episcopal School
Bradenton, FL

June 25 – 30, 2017
Oklahoma Regional AP Biology Teacher Academy @ Jenks High School
Jenks, OK

July 9 – 14, 2017
California Biology Teacher Academy @ CSET
Stanford, CA

July 9 – 14, 2017
Virginia Biology Teacher Academy @ Virginia Wesleyan College
Norfolk, VA

July 10 – 14, 2017
Rocky Mountain Biology Teacher Academy @ Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO

July 23 – 28, 2017
California Biology Teacher Academy at the Dunn School
Los Olivos, CA


Registration for the academies will open in early 2017. Learn more and sign up for AP Academy updates at

The NABT / BSCS AP Biology Academy is presented in partnership with HHMI's BioInteractive. Additional support is provided by




PALM Network Opportunity to Support Vision and Change

The Promoting Active Learning & Mentoring (PALM) Network Grant provides faculty and postdoctoral fellows with resources that allow them to gain hands-on experience and long-term mentorship in bringing evidence-based, effective active learning strategies into their own classrooms.

PALM fellows will:

  • Identify and secure partnership with experienced mentors who have already reformed their classrooms.
  • Submit a complete proposal according to the parameters of the evaluation rubric found at
  • Schedule dates to visit their mentor's institution, and complete the identified work within 9 months of receiving the award notification.
  • Develop an active learning based module for one of their classes with guidance from their mentors, and implement it.
  • Submit videos of their teaching before and after their mentoring experience for analysis.
  • Consider best options and timing for disseminating their materials to others in their institutions and in the greater scientific community, including publication.
  • Report on their activities to colleagues at a gathering of the PALM Network, as well as at a national, regional, or sectional meeting of their respective scientific societies.
  • Participate in surveys over several years so the PALM Network can assess the extent and persistence of change in classroom practice.

The PALM Network Grant supports $2000 per fellow and $500 mentor stipend, with $1000 meeting travel each for fellow and mentor. The 2017 Application Deadlines are January 15 and July 15.

PALM is funded by NSF Research Coordination Network in Undergraduate Biology Education (RCN-UBE) Grant #1624200. More information and eligibility requirements available at



Apply Today for 2017 Project Dragonfly Programs

Miami University’s Project Dragonfly is accepting applications for 2017 Earth Expeditions graduate courses until January 28th. Extraordinary experiences are offered in 16 countries throughout the world and graduate tuition for all programs is greatly reduced because of support from Miami University.

Earth Expeditions can build toward the Global Field Program (GFP), a master's degree that combines summer field courses worldwide with web learning communities so that students can complete the GFP master's part-time from anywhere in the United States or abroad.

Project Dragonfly also offers graduate courses and the Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) master's degree co-delivered by premier learning institutions in Cincinnati, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, New York, Phoenix, San Diego and Seattle. The AIP master's takes place on-site and near AIP Master Institutions and through web-based learning communities.

Applications are due January 28, 2017.

The material offered in this program is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1010938 and 0610409.


Scholarships Available for
2017 Educator Academy in the Amazon

Amazon Rainforest Workshops has made $1000 scholarships available for Biology and Environmental Science educators for their July 1-11, 2017 Educator Academy in the Amazon Rainforest of Peru. The application deadline is Feburary 1st, 2017.

Join Al Stenstrup, Project Learning Tree; Dr. Nancy Trautmann, Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Dr. David Pearson, Wildlife Travellers’ Guide to Peru; along with scientists Dr. Steve Madigosky, Widener University; and Randy Morgan, Curator/Entomologist, Cincinnati Zoo as you:

  • Explore sustainability, conservation, and field work with the Maijuna indigenous community
  • Participate in citizen science projects and inquiry based field studies on a 1/4-mile Rainforest Canopy Walkway in one of the most biologically diverse environments on the planet.
  • Spend a day in an Amazon village as you explore the complexities of sustainability and the role of education in creating a sustainable future for Amazon children.
  • Work with fellow educators to explore strategies for using the Amazon as a vehicle for incorporating STEM education, inquiry-based learning, and sustainability science education into your classroom.

PLT certification, BirdSleuth resources and 50 Arizona State University PD hours included. Academic credit and Machu Picchu extension optional. Get the details and download a syllabus and scholarship application at Applications are due February 1, 2017.

Contact or (800) 431-2624 for more information.




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2017 NABT Professional
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