CIRM took our high school curriculum on the road last week to the annual meeting of the National Association of Biology Teachers in Anaheim at a hotel just down the block from Disneyland. About 800 biology educators attended the meeting. Although I did not venture into the amusement park, I suspect the exhibit hall at the conference had some equally fanciful attractions such as the 3-D video anatomy display across the aisle from the CIRM booth and the virtual tour of a Costa Rican rain forest. So, I was initially a bit concerned about how stem cells would compete for the teachers' attention. That concern was pretty quickly set aside.
At the very beginning of the meeting we had a CIRM hands-on workshop to walk a room full of teachers through how our five on-line modules and introductory lesson can be used. You can find them all here. Many in the room walked away after the hour session saying they planned to use the curriculum.
The next day the exhibit hall opened and we had a steady parade of teachers coming by to say their students had been asking about stem cells and that they were thrilled to find out that such a robust curriculum was available on the web and seemed a bit shocked and pleased to find out it was completely free. They liked that each module had student resources and teacher resources, glossaries and assessment tools. Many talked about dressing up their classrooms with blow-ups of the images CIRM has linked off the curriculum and on our Flickr site.
Three days later as the meeting was winding down on Saturday, one teacher who had come by to chat the first day dropped by again to say, "I just wanted to tell you, you are the best thing in this place."
With that I would like to offer kudos to the team from U.C. Berkeley and the Bay Area high school teachers that helped us build the five modules, and particularly to thank Laurel Barchas who managed the project.