National organization names Charles Drewes recipient of biology
Over the past 28 years, Charles Drewes, professor of zoology and genetics,
frequently pondered the following questions -
*Can more be done to inspire students in biology?
*Is biology education too often a "spectator sport"?
*If so, why, and what can be done?
"My intuitions and my colleagues seemed to provide affirmative answers
to the first two questions, but I felt I was in no position to effect
any change," Drewes said.
Then, in 1993, Drewes says he was able to begin effecting some actual
change when he became a co-director of a multi-year project funded by
the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to improve undergraduate biology education
at Iowa State.
His vision and specific role in this project involved creation of hands-on
summer workshops for biology teachers at the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory.
What followed from those first workshops in 1993 was a series of personally
rewarding and professionally transforming experiences in educational outreach
in which Drewes found answers to that third question.
It also has led Drewes to be recognized this fall by the National Association
of Biology Teachers (NABT) as the recipient of their national "Four-Year
College Biology Teaching Award" for 2002.
"This award is testimony to your excellence in teaching as well as
your unique abilities that inspire others who teach and are engaged in
biological research," wrote Janice Haldeman, professor of biology
at Erskine College and chair of the Four-Year Section of the NABT.
The NABT award recognizes creativity and innovations in undergraduate
college biology teaching. These innovations include curriculum design,
teaching strategies and laboratory utilization. The award is co-sponsored
by the Benjamin Cummings Publishing Company.
"This is an affirmation that what I'm doing is meaningful and important
to a wide group of biology teachers from the middle school to college
level," Drewes said.
Since 1993 every summer for one to two weeks, you will find Drewes at
the Iowa Lakeside Lab instructing those middle school and high school
biology teachers in a series of workshops in invertebrate biology. Participants
in Drewes' Lakeside Lab workshops will be involved in a combination of
hands-on classroom investigations and fieldwork, including exploring the
abundant aquatic habitats of the region.
Drewes has also regularly presented new ideas for laboratory investigations
to teachers who attend hands-on workshop sessions at conferences of the
NABT and the Association for Biology Laboratory Education.
"Through workshop initiatives, I sought to connect or re-connect
participating teachers with the living, natural world of invertebrates
in both field and lab settings," he said. "Such efforts gradually
led me to believe that meaningful interaction of teachers and their students
with a wide range of living, behaving organisms not only enhances their
biology education in general, but ultimately is crucial for promoting
ecological awareness and preserving biodiversity."
Drewes' successful teacher workshops feature "low-tech" activities
that teachers, regardless of any budgetary constraints, can bring into
their classroom. He has refined and shared an array of these teaching
tools with students and teachers at all education levels.
And while Drewes says the Hughes grant was the stimulus to begin his journey
into teaching teachers, it is those same teachers that keep him motivated.
"Working with these teachers has taught me a lot and stimulated my
creativity," he said. "It's clear to me that the methods and
techniques that I have to offer are of interest to a lot of people, and
the more I see the teachers interested, the more I get energized."
October 7-20, 2002