Professional Development


Workshops & Institutes

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We regularly conduct workshops for practitioners and present at research conferences. Look for us at annual conferences for NSTA (National Science Teachers Association; national as well as some regional conferences), NABT (National Association of Biology Teachers), USTA (Utah Science Teachers Association), NARST (National Association for Research in Science Teaching), ASTE (Association for Science Teacher Education), and AERA (American Educational Research Association).

Genetics and Health in the Genomic Age

Asynchronous Online Institute
May 1-31, 2021

Throw out that Punnett square! To be informed producers and consumers of genetic and health data, today’s students need to understand genetics with a molecular focus. In this course, you’ll explore basic concepts in molecular genetics that go beyond simple inheritance patterns to illuminate exactly how variations in DNA lead to variations in traits, health, and disease. From there, you’ll explore how family health history and genetics inform healthcare and biomedical research, and consider issues surrounding Direct-to-Consumer genetic testing. The course is built around an NGSS-aligned unit on Genetics for high school, and supplemented with readings, videos, and discussions about related and contemporary topics. All course materials will be freely available for classroom use.

Appropriate for: Middle and High School Science Teachers, or Elementary Teachers who want to brush up on genetics.

Cost: FREE

Credit: 3 graduate credits from the University of Utah Department of Human Genetics available for a $50 recording fee

For more detailed information and an application visit: Genetics and Health Institute Registration

Registration Deadline: April 25, 2021

DNA and the Unity of Life

Asynchronous Online Institute
July 1-31, 2021

Preview a high-school level unit on Evolution and Genetics by experiencing it as a student would! Collaborate and discuss implementation strategies with other Institute participants and the curriculum developers! This Institute will explore the freely available and classroom-tested Evolution: DNA and the Unity of Life curriculum unit. It emphasizes the role of genetics in evolution by weaving together core ideas in both areas and includes built-in scaffolded approaches to analyzing skill-level appropriate data and engaging in argumentation from evidence. Explore core ideas about Shared Biochemistry, Genetics and Heredity, Common Ancestry, Natural Selection, and Speciation while integrating key science practices that align with the goals of the Next Generation Science Standards.

Cost: FREE

Credit: (optional) 1 graduate credit from the University of Utah Department of Human Genetics is available for a $50 recording fee.

For more information and registration visit: DNA and the Unity of Life Registration

Registration Deadline: June 25, 2021

Evolution and Heredity for Middle School — Institutes and Pilot Test

Asynchronous Online Institute: July 1-31, 2021 (roughly 20 hours)
In-person Institute: August 2-6, 2021 in Salt Lake City, UT
Classroom Testing: 2021-2022 academic year

Research shows that students have an easier time learning evolution concepts when they understand related concepts from genetics and heredity. We are developing a 5–6 week, NGSS-friendly unit that integrates core ideas in genetics, heredity, and natural selection. The unit focuses on the mechanisms that drive genetic variation and how natural selection makes certain trait variations more common in a group. Its easy-to-implement multimedia and paper-based activities are paired with scaffolded practice in working with models, crafting explanations, and identifying cause and effect relationships. We need your expertise to perfect the materials and make them easy for teachers to use!

Participation in this program includes three parts:

  • An Asynchronous Online “Background” Institute: Experience our high-school level evolution unit that integrates concepts from genetics and heredity, learning what middle school students should be prepared to do in high school.
  • In-person Institute*: Meet in Salt Lake city to preview the new middle-school level unit and offer feedback on the materials. In addition, you will collaborate with colleagues to develop teacher supports and refine assessment items for the unit.
  • Test in Classrooms During the 2021-2022 Academic Year: We will work with your district and principal to gain approval. You will use the unit in your classes, learn how the materials work with students, and offer feedback and ideas for refinement. You will admisister a series of pre and posttests, complete short daily logs and submit samples of student work.

Appropriate For: Middle School Teachers who teach both Heredity and Evolution/Natural Selection core ideas.

Compensation: $950 stipend paid in increments; travel, lodging, and meals during the In-person Institute

Credit: 4 graduate credits from the University of Utah Department of Human Genetics available for a $50 recording fee

* We will follow CDC and University of Utah COVID-19 guidance in place at the time of the Institute for travel and in-person gatherings. This includes allowing for recommended distancing, safe practices at meal times and other safety protocols such as mask-wearing, hand washing and sanitation. Should recommendations advise against travel or in-person gatherings, the Institute will move to a virtual format.

For more details and an application visit: MS Evolution Pilot Application

Application Deadline: May 7, 2021