CONFERENCE: QUBES Roadshow visits American Society for Parasitologists meeting in Omaha, NE and runs into Antiques Roadshow
QUBES (represented by Jeremy Wojdak) presented a case for using the compelling stories of parasites and their hosts to engage introductory biology students (and faculty) in modeling and statistics, at the annual meeting of the American Society for Parasitologists in Omaha NE, during a special symposium on education organized by Sarah Orlofske.
Parasitologists, disease ecologists, and epidemiologists regularly use mathematical modeling to help solve critical problems - they have contexts in which modeling provides real insights to real problems unavailable otherwise. These contexts contrast starkly with the abstract and uninteresting contexts in which we sometimes teach quantitative biology (i.e. think of a typical t-test example where the "experiment" is whether nitrogen increases plant growth... zzzz.....). Many biology instructors have little familiarity with host-parasite systems, and parasitologists can do a great service by providing compelling materials for all to share and use. Besides being a great context for teaching quantitative biology, parasites also represent perhaps 50% of all species, so increasing the coverage of parasites in introductory biology courses is itself a valuable goal.
At the meeting a group of ASP educational leaders proposed an online exchange of teaching materials around parasitology, and by the end of the conference a QUBES Hub group (Biology teaching materials featuring parasites) was up and running. We hope for a vibrant collaboration and sharing of materials for both broad biology courses and parasitology-focused courses.
As a fun coincidence, ASP was hosted across the street from the convention center hosting the popular PBS show "Antiques Roadshow". It was hard to not have one's mind wander from scientific talks to surprise attic treasures!
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