This resource is an article written for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) online newsletter. Science in the Classroom (SiTC) is an initiative for higher-education science educators, launched in October 2013 with support from the National Science Foundation, designed to help demystify how scientists build a basis for understanding the world.
The AAAS publication Science opened its resource materials in order to introduce concepts to students in settings such as community colleges, where large, intricate laboratory experiments may be cost-prohibitive. An educator who participated in the initiative reports his own experience using resources that have now been made freely available to educators by AAAS. He explains that his students broadened their knowledge of experimental design, science writing, and terminology by studying two SiTC papers on a gene that directs leaf shapes in the Brassicaceae family of plants and the mechanism that triggers flowering in one member of that plant family (Arabidopsis thaliana). Half of the class looked first at one paper, then at the other, creating a glossary, reference annotations, and questions. Students also peer-reviewed each other’s work and wrote mini-grant proposals and reviews. By analyzing, annotating, and reviewing two Science papers as part of a SiTC exercise, students improved their scientific vocabulary and critical-thinking skills. For their contributions to the growing SiTC stockpile of study materials, the students will also all receive bylines on the Science website.