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June 21, 2010

The NCBE at Reading

The Department of Typography at Reading takes up most of an old wartime edifice which also houses some music pratice rooms (not a bad thing, most of the time) and the small but highly acclaimed National Centre for Biotechnology Education . To the staff in Typography right next door, the NCBE is seldom seen, seldom heard; there are however some fascinating areas of overlap between the two entities, and plenty at the centre to interest several of us graphic communication people next door, especially the ones interested in science, education and diagrammatic representation!

The NCBE is a longstanding (and since the early 1990s, entirely self-funding) research centre at the University of Reading that specialises in the development of educational materials to teach areas of biology such as evolutionary biology and biotechnology. They develop and run workshops, produce (international) literature, and create kits for experiments and activities involving everything from splitting up DNA with various enzymes to growing mushrooms on loo roll (toilet paper for us crass North Americans).

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February 20, 2010

Science Bites

There was an interesting blogpost at the Guardian this week by Simon Underdown, an anthropology lecturer at Oxford Brookes: Teach the bigger story of science.

Underdown asks why so many young people become bored by science, and suggests an answer might be found in the way we have built our curriculum:

The "Google generation" is taught in bite-sized chunks throughout their school lives [...] the same old examples makes for boring lessons and unmotivated students (not to mention teachers). Perhaps if bite-sized subject syllabi were to be replaced with broader subject descriptions that rely on linking well-developed core principles, we could develop a much wider range of illustrations and examples to really motivate students.

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