Welcome to the BEN portal, the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) Pathway for biological sciences education. The BEN Portal provides access to education resources from BEN Collaborators and is managed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Over 18,827 reviewed resources covering 77 biological sciences topics are available. BEN resources can help you engage student interest, shorten lesson preparation time, provide concept updates, and develop curricula that are in line with national standards for content, use of animals and humans, and student safety.
Materials can be browsed by subject, resource type, and audience (potential audiences covered include pretty much every age level you can think of). Not everything is free, but the majority seems to be.
This seems like an interesting resource, especially if you’re teaching science topics.
Signs of Pseudoscience
via Psychology - From Inquiry to Understanding
An imposter of science is pseudoscience: a set of claims that seem scientific but aren’t. In particular, pseudoscience lacks the safeguards against confirmation bias and belief perseverance that characterize science. We must be careful to distinguish pseudoscientific claims from metaphysical claims, which as we’ve seen, are untestable and therefore lie outside the realm of science. In principle, at least, we can test pseudoscientific claims, although the proponents of these claims often avoid subjecting them to rigorous examination.
Pseudoscientific and other questionable beliefs are widespread. A recent survey of the U.S. public shows that 41 percent of Americans believe in extrasensory perception (ESP); over 30 percent in haunted houses, ghosts, and telepathy; and 25 percent in astrology (Musella, 2005).
The fact that many Americans entertain the possibility of such beliefs isn’t by itself worrisome, because a certain amount of open-mindedness is essential for scientific thinking. Instead, what’s troubling is that many Americans appear convinced that such claims are correct even though the scientific evidence for them is either weak, as in the case of ESP, or essentially nonexistent, as in the case of astrology. Moreover, it’s troubling that many poorly supported beliefs are more popular, or at least more widespread, than well-supported beliefs. To take merely one example, there are about 20 times as many astrologers as astronomers in the United States (Gilovich, 1991).
(Yes, this is totally and completely unrelated to libraries. Naked mole-rats are just that awesome.)
Extra Credit: Visit Your Local Library and Consult Librarians and Reference Materials
You’ve done your homework, looked up some studies, read both sides of an argument, and you’re still not sure what to believe, or if there’s enough information to believe anything. That’s great—you’re still hungry for information, and there’s one place left to get it: your local library. Photo by Manchester City Library.
If you catch yourself unable to download a specific study, or the study is so old (or too new!) that it’s not available, or you just want help getting to the bottom of an issue, visit your library’s reference desk. Often, public libraries—and especially university libraries—have free access to scholarly journals and their archives so you can download, print, and read full-text articles you wouldn’t be able to get at home. Even many university libraries only require student ID if you’re going to check something out, so they’re a great resource for everyone.
“Most university librarians will happily provide you a copy of a paper if you or someone you know is enrolled in the university,” McRaney adds. If you are going to chat up your local reference librarian, see what they think of the topic, and if they can do some digging on your behalf. Most often, they can do some research for you and present you with findings to read through, or they can at least help guide you to authoritative sources on the topic.
Extra points for mentioning libraries in this article! The rest of the tips are awesome, too (and they’re more than likely what the librarian will do in the course of helping someone who asks a question like this).
If you don’t have time to read this entire blog post, here’s the tl;dr version: if you think, as I do, that the investment we make in basic research should be maximized through making that research accessible to all, sign the petition.
If you’d like to know more, here’s why I think this petition is worth signing.
I’m a huge fan of PubMed Central. Just the other day, a student was desperate to find an article quickly – any article, so long as it presented original scientific research on a particular species of tree. Normally, I would have pointed her to a biology database, but our library is small and that database’s coverage is deep, so she would have had to click through lots and lots of articles before finding any in full text or print in our library. I showed her PubMed Central and she had several articles to choose from, all full text, within seconds.
Even better, when she graduates, she can still search PubMed Central and read those articles. We are required by almost all of our licenses to cut students off the minute they graduate. What a great way to prepare students for lifelong learning: get them hooked on scholarly research, then show them the door.
See the occurrence of any single word in the Popular Sciencemagazine from 1872 to 2009. You can view the results in a table or in an animated outward spiral.
While we continue to oppose government mandates in this area, Elsevier is withdrawing support for the Research Work Act itself. We hope this will address some of the concerns expressed and help create a less heated and more productive climate for our ongoing discussions with research funders.
In my circles, the answer to this question is fairly obvious. But as I was trying to explain to undergraduates how messed up scholarly publishing is, I realized it’s hard to grasp unless you already have been bruised by current practices. When you’re just learning how information works and have only gotten as far as “you ought to use scholarly sources,” it’s very puzzling indeed. So I thought I’d try to break it down.
The Federal Research Public Access Act, reintroduced today by a bipartisan assortment of politicians, would broaden the open-access requirement to nearly all federally funded research. The rationale is that taxpayers, having paid once for the research, shouldn’t have to pay again to read what was done. Today’s bill is a response to the Research Works Act, which was introduced in December. The Research Works Act would roll back NIH’s open-access policy and prohibit the government from imposing any similar policies in the future.
A great parable relating to scholarly publishing. Definitely worth a read.
Librarians and scientists are not always in perfect accord, but if anything is going to unite them, it’s opposition to the Research Works Act (HR 3699). Introduced on 16 December 2011 by Representative Darrell Issa (Republican, California) and Representative Carolyn Maloney (Democrat, New York) and immediately referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, RWA would reverse the National Institutes of Health Public Access Policy that mandates scientists to make their final peer-reviewed journal articles available online, for free, within 12 months of publication. This open access provision is compatible with other open access initiatives around the world and a mainstay of PubMed, the medical database used around the world.
No language has spread as widely as English, and it continues to spread. Internationally the desire to learn it is insatiable. In the twenty-first century the world is becoming more urban and more middle class, and the adoption of English is a symptom of this, for increasingly English serves as the lingua franca of business and popular culture. It is dominant or at least very prominent in other areas such as shipping, diplomacy, computing, medicine and education. A recent study has suggested that among students in the United Arab Emirates “Arabic is associated with tradition, home, religion, culture, school, arts and social sciences,” whereas English “is symbolic of modernity, work, higher education, commerce, economics and science and technology.” In Arabic-speaking countries, science subjects are often taught in English because excellent textbooks and other educational resources are readily available in English. This is not something that has come about in an unpurposed fashion; the propagation of English is an industry, not a happy accident.
» via Salon