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Biography of an Experiment
The Biography of an Experiment website contains an ever-growing collection of influential papers in the natural sciences—annotated by undergraduates who spend a semester critically evaluating the work and assessing the scientists’ own perspectives. The annotated manuscripts describe important experiments in molecular and cellular biology, biochemistry, and psychology. The project—a cooperative effort between students and faculty at Haverford College to expose undergraduates to the stories behind key experiments in the natural sciences—gives students a deeper understanding of primary literature. Teachers and students can learn how the principal investigators formulated their ideas and shaped their projects by navigating through a PDF of the original manuscript to a PowerPoint guide to the paper. The guide and the annotations contain links to feature articles about the research, including an interview with the principle investigator and tips for understanding and critically interpreting data. The developers say that these undergraduate authors have developed a unique pedagogical tool that should give teachers and other students insights into the living history of a scientific inquiry.
Program Director: Robert Fairman, Ph.D.
Award Years: 1988, 1993. 2000, 2004, 2008
Summary: Haverford College is a private baccalaureate institution in Haverford, Pennsylvania. Its HHMI-funded initiatives include:
- A new concentration in scientific computing, and help from a visiting scholar to develop new ways to incorporate quantitative elements into undergraduate science courses;
- The development of biologically oriented courses of study in the chemistry and physics departments, leading to concentrations in biochemistry and biophysics, formal programs of classroom and laboratory training at the interface between the physical and biological sciences;
- A Computer Science Education Summer Institute, a one-week program designed to help K-12 Philadelphia-area teachers reflect on the role of computing in education;
- The Haverford/Bryn Mawr Summer Institutes for K-12 teachers, which allow college faculty and precollege teachers to share perspectives on enhancing science and mathematics education throughout the curriculum and at all levels of the educational enterprise;
- The Haverford Summer Science Institute, a five-week bridge program that offers students from under-represented minority groups—or from families with little or no college experience—an introduction to college-level coursework in a small classroom setting;
- A Postdoctoral Fellows Program to provide teaching and mentoring opportunities for up to eight fellows, and
- Faculty workshops targeting curriculum development and scientific imaging techniques to support and expand faculty expertise.