|Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues Section
DOE Human Genome Program Contractor-Grantee
131. Using the Power of Informal Learning to Address Science Literacy: A Report from the Microbial Literacy Collaborative
Cynthia A. Needham
American Society for Microbiology, Washington, D.C. and ICAN Productions, Ltd., Stowe, VT 05672
The Microbial Literacy Collaborative (MLC), a partnership of organizations committed to advancing scientific literacy, opened the door to the microbial world for millions of people over this past year.
"Intimate Strangers: Unseen Life on Earth," the four hour science documentary that provided the centerpiece for the initiative, was broadcast simultaneously by over 90% of the stations within the PBS system during November 1999. The series was viewed by an average of 1.6 million households each week and received favorable reviews from both trade and scientific press.
"Meet the Microbes," a collection of 17 hands-on activities that complements the major themes of the television series were used widely throughout the US. The activities are appropriate for both informal and formal learning environments. They support open-ended experimental design, help to address elements of National Science Education Standards, and can be downloaded from the MLC website.
Two National Youth Leadership Summits, week-long experiences designed to introduce youth leaders and their adult sponsors to the microbial world and prepare them to implement the hands-on activities in their local community programs, were held. Participants for each summit were drawn from science museums, youth clubs, and school science clubs from 12 different regions in the U.S. A third summit is planned for summer 2000 in Portland, Oregon.
"Unseen Life on Earth: An Introduction to Microbiology," a 12 part video series designed for use in both undergraduate and pre-college classrooms as well as for distance learning, was received with great enthusiasm by the teaching community. Each 30 minute film focuses on a different aspect of the microbial world. The video series addresses the curriculum standards endorsed by the ASM and is accompanied by teacher and student guides.
"Intimate Strangers: Unseen Life on Earth," the companion book to the documentary, combines vivid, descriptive images from the television series with original artwork to tell the compelling story of the world of microbes and their role in the Earth's ecosystems. Targeted to members of the scientifically interested public, the book puts the vitally important role of the microbial world into stories and terms familiar to the reader. The book is available through ASM Press.
www.microbeworld.org is the MLC's award winning website. The site contains information about the microbial world for all, educational resources for teachers and students, and links to other sites with microbial information. www.microbeworld.org was chosen as an USA Today Hot Site and was featured in NetScape's What's Cool. The site received an A-plus review from Education World and was picked and the Top Site Award from Education Planet.
|The online presentation of this publication is a special feature of the Human Genome Project Information Web site.|