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    <ong>Science Education Center wins Science Prize for online resource

    Cathryn Manduca and the Carleton College Science Education Resource Center have been awarded the Science Prize for Online Resources in Education (SPORE) for their website creation, On the Cutting Edge, which fosters the sharing of ideas about the geosciences, both in terms of teaching and education throughout the field.Science is published by The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the nonprofit science society.

    “In the United States, many students get earth science in seventh or eighth grade – and never have another geoscience class,” Manduca said. “Yet now it is especially important for students in general to understand what is facing us environmentally, and for the workforce to have more and better-trained geoscientists.”

    SPORE was designed to honor and promote the originators of the best online materials available to science educators. The contest bears the acronym SPORE with the idea that these winning projects may be the seed for valuable progress, despite widespread challenges to educational innovation. Science publishes an article by each recipient of the award explaining each winning project. The article about the On the Cutting Edge Web site was published in the February 26 issue of Science.

    “We’re trying to advance science education,” says Bruce Alberts, editor-in-chief of Science. “This competition will provide much-needed recognition for innovators in the field whose efforts promise significant benefits for students and for science literacy in general. The publication in Science of an article on each Web site will help guide education around the globe to valuable free resources that might otherwise be missed.”

    “The Web site created a culture of sharing teaching resources that wasn’t there before,” says Manduca.  Pamela Hines, an editor at Science, says On the Cutting Edge builds engagement among geoscience teachers—with their subject matter and with each other.

    “With workshops, information about teaching, and opportunities to connect with and learn from other geoscience faculty, On the Cutting Edge builds a community of engaged geoscience teachers,” Hines says.

    Critical to the Web site’s value is it success in encouraging geoscience faculty to try new methods of teaching, particularly active-learning techniques. Users of the Web site report that the Web site gives them confidence to try new approaches. To assess the relative effectiveness of the many educational methods presented, the Web site presents current research on how students learn, pointing out which methods produce the best results. With such a broad range of materials offered, the Web site appeals to all kinds of instructors within the geosciences, including groups that have been traditionally underrepresented in the field. Furthermore, the Web site’s users include many teachers of other sciences.

    “The strategies that we’re using to make better teachers are transferable to other sciences,” Manduca says. More than half of the Web site’s users are from outside of the discipline, she reports.

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