We’ve just held the second day of the annual “Waikato Experience of Biology” (WEB) days – around 700 year 13 biology students, & their teachers, have come on campus over those 2 days for a program of seminars + some lab experience that supports their learning in several areas of their Biology curriculum. (There are photos on the Faculty’s Facebook page.) I give seminars on human evolution & other colleagues talk about gene expression, patterns of evolution, biotechnology, and plant responses/animal behaviour.
The students were great – it’s always fun to spend time talking with young people about biology :-) They were also a credit to their schools – when you’ve got a lecture theatre full of 400 year 13 students, & absolutely no issues with noise or chatter during a talk, then that speaks volumes.
I spoke with a lot of the attending teachers as well, just catching up & making sure that we had things pitched at the right level & were meeting their needs & those of their students. (It sounded like we had things pretty much spot-on.) But we also talked about the impending implementation of the new (‘aligned’) Achievement Standards at Level 3 – this is the last year that gene expression will be taught & examined at that level, for example, as it’s moving down to year 12 & in its place comes a new AS on homeostasis, and another on ‘human manipulation of genetic transfer’ which seems a more tightly focused version of the previous standard on biotechnology.
And it became quite clear that many of those I spoke with were concerned at how well they were going to be able to deliver this new content & develop their students’ understanding of it. One of the things we’ll be doing here at Waikato to support them is running a teacher evening to provide ideas, content knowledge & maybe other resources. If you’re a scientist with an interest in, say, homeostasis (or cloning, or transgenes), and an interest in communicating the science around it, why not contact the HoD Biology at your local secondary school and offer to help? It could be the start of a wonderful new working relationship :-)