A new collaboration between NAI and the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) enabled the production of a special astrobiology-themed event at this year's NABT 2008 Professional Development Conference, held in Memphis, TN, October 15-18th. ASM's K-12 Committee Chair graciously invited NAI to join them in making astrobiology the theme of the day-long event that ASM hosts at NABT each year. E/PO Leads from NAI's MBL and IPTAI teams, in collaboration with exobiology researcher Brad Bebout from NASA Ames, joined several astrobiologists from ASM's ranks in sharing lectures and classroom materials about microbial life in extreme environments. NABT supported the event by advertising it in their newsletter and highlighting it in the conference program.
Although it was held on the final day of the conference when attendance typically declines, the astrobiology event drew a consistent crowd of 30-50 teachers throughout the day. The program was highlighted by a special "Microbial Lunch" in which teachers were taught about the essential role microbes play in food while they enjoyed their meal.
The free lunch ticket was offered in exchange for the teachers' input to a survey which NAI produced. It asks which biological topics teachers struggle with most often, as well as what types of activities they prefer to use in the classroom and what form of professional development they find most accessible. NABT included this survey in a recent newsletter, which reached their ~6000 members. Survey results are forthcoming.
Source: NAI Newsletter
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