We hope to engage you in a process that is likely to lead to the development of high quality, adoptable, and adaptable curricular materials in biology and mathematics education. How can mathematics and biology education reformers use these five approaches to catalyze discussion, enhance learning, promote social action, and bridge a gap between us? How can we move beyond the separate and unequal educational practices of the past such that we can enable diverse learners to mutually and collaboratively learn both biology and mathematics in a seamlessly integrated learning environment? Can we do this in a way that maintains disciplinary strengths, builds on natural talents and interests of students in each distinct arena, and yet builds interdisciplinary communities? What metaphors will work? Border crossing? Hybridization? Cross-fertilization? Integration? Connectivity? Networking? Symbiosis? Synergisms? We do not yet know where these interactions will go, but we are driven by the recognition that problems don’t come in neat little packages, that future science will require students to learn how to deal with terabytes of data collected per day, and that multivariate, multidimensional, and multidisciplinary challenges will require far different approaches than are used in current practice. Furthermore, we recognize that already students know their careers will, with high probability, expect them to be able to be “versatilists” rather than specialists and flexible expertise is appropriate in such a dynamic landscape.
Sixty-one ESTEEM modules are in various stages of development. Currently, about thirty of these ESTEEM modules are available for trying out, commenting upon, and building upon. Eight primary authors: Anton Weisstein at Truman State University and seven of us at Beloit College: Rama Viswanathan; Vince Streif, Tia Johnson, Annelise Myers, Jennifer Spangenberg, DaYoung Chun, and John R. Jungck continue to work on the applications in the list above. Amanda Everse and Chiro Umezaki, in Burlington. Vermont, continue to work on the MySQL database driver and the ESTEEM website. International collaborators in Thailand, New Zealand, Germany, and Australia have already made major contributions and more are forthcoming. Obviously, some modules in which we have more expertise have received much more attention than others. Currently, eleven modules have extensive data sets that include: 114 foodwebs; numerous island biogeography datasets from archipelagos around the world; access to protein and nucleic acid sequence databanks; gravestone population life history data; morphology of over 600 Galapagos finches; a list of buffers for different pH ranges; ABO phenotypic frequencies of human populations spread around the earth; kinetic data; images; genomic data (orders); and simulation outputs (external). We feel that spreadsheet models are greatly enhanced when combined with heterogeneous data sets that can be used to test the models.
BIO2010: Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists. Committee on Undergraduate Biology Education to Prepare Research Scientists for the 21st Century, Board on Life Sciences, National Research Council. The National Academy Press: Washington, DC 2002.
Math & Bio 2010: Linking Undergraduate Disciplines. Lynn Arthur Steen, Editor. Mathematics Association of America: Washington, DC 2005.
Ten Equations that Changed Biology: Mathematics in Problem-Solving Biology Curricula. John R. Jungck. Bioscene: Journal of College Biology Teaching 23 (1): 11-36 (May 1997).