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The Biology Project
The Biology Project is an interactive online resource for learning biology, developed at the University of Arizona. Although designed for college-level biology students, it is also useful for high school students, medical students, physicians, science writers, and the public. The website includes tutorials on eight subject areas—biochemistry, cell biology, chemicals and human health, developmental biology, human biology, immunology, Mendelian genetics, and molecular biology—that are found in an introductory biology course. The tutorials contain real-life applications of biology. For most topics, the tutorials are structured as a series of problem sets, based on multiple-choice questions, that direct student learning. Correct answers are reinforced with a brief explanation, while incorrect answers are linked to tutorials with text and graphics to explain the concept being assessed. The developers say that the multiple-choice format creates an interactive learning instrument rather than a testing instrument. Teachers can assign problem sets for review before exams, or may want to assign an activity (such as DNA profiling) before students cover that topic in their laboratory. Several tutorials are available in Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian as well as in English. In addition to the biology units, the website also contains a variety of lesson plans and activities—such as “The Behavior of Ants”—developed for middle and high school teachers. The Biology Project, which started in 1995, received the 2009 Biology Classics Award from MERLOT, an online community of educators and institutions working to increase quality Web-based resources designed to enhance teaching and learning. However, the project website is no longer being maintained or updated.
Program Director: Roy Parker, Ph.D.
Award Years: 1989, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006
Summary: The University of Arizona is a public research university in Tucson, Arizona. Its HHMI-funded educational initiatives include:
- Three new tracks for the Undergraduate Biology Research Program (UBRP): a research track that integrates biology and mathematics, the physical sciences, and engineering; an interdisciplinary research track involving faculty from two or more departments; and a biotechnology industry research track.
- The Biology Project, an interactive online resource for learning biology, tested on thousands of students and useful not only for college students but also for high school students, medical students, physicians, science writers, and others interested in biology.
- The Biology Learning Center Lab, which offers students and faculty in the life sciences a site incorporating state-of-the-art computing and presentation technology, including high speed access to the Internet, Web-based teaching materials, and other software materials useful to interactive learning.
- The Science Connection, a program which helps undergraduates develop and present hands-on science activities in K-12 classrooms in the Tucson metropolitan area. This program introduces undergraduates majoring in science to the challenges and rewards of teaching science at the elementary school level.
- The BIOTECH Project, a biotechnology outreach program that provides resource materials, equipment loans, and training to middle and high school teachers in Arizona. Schools served by the BIOTECH Project have large populations of underrepresented minority students. The Project enables teachers to update their biology content, through professional development workshops, classes at the university, and classroom visits by BIOTECH staff.
- The General Biology Program for Science Teachers, which offers graduate-level courses and enrichment opportunities for biology teachers. Teachers can enroll in online courses during the school year or during the summer, earning credit toward a master’s degree or participating in a non-degree program; and
- Master’s degree in General Biology, which takes place almost exclusively over the summer, so that teachers need to complete only minimal course work while they are teaching. Teachers in the master’s degree program take courses during the first summer of the program; during two subsequent summers, they do research under the supervision of University of Arizona biological sciences faculty. They write and defend a thesis, and create, classroom test, and disseminate to other teachers a lesson unit based on their research experiences.