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University of Washington Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Undergraduate Biological Sciences Education Programs

News and Deadlines

Upcoming Events

SILS Retrospective: Learning from Our Teachers, August 2012
Thanks to all who participated in this special meeting to celebrate 23 yrs of our programs for in-service K-12 teachers!

Application Deadlines

Interested in the Biology Fellows Program?
BIOL 106, the BFP course, is now a regular course provided by the Biology Department. See an adviser in HCK 318 for more info.
Interested in the Future Faculty Fellows Teaching Apprenticeships?
Contact R. Price or M. Servetnick at UW Bothell for more info.


Our Updated Web Site
Please explore the program pages to see the resources and articles developed by our UW-HHMI team.
Our National Lab Day Celebration!
To learn more about our NLD celebration for middle school kids, see our K-12 outreach page.
In Print...
Read the 2012 article about the Biology Fellows Program in CBE-LSE (in press):
"Facilitating Long-Term Changes in Student Approaches to Learning Science"
Congratulations to UW-HHMI Participants & Awardees
Gilliam Fellowship Awardee: Martha Zepeda Rivera

HHMI EXROP Awardee: Elischa Sanders

Levinson Emerging Scholar: Marvin Nayan

President's Achievement Awardee: Denise Della

Bank of America Scholar: Jose Mario Pineda

Wells Fargo Vice President’s Achievement Awardee: Erica Chavez Santos

McNair Scholar: Elizabeth Emau, Chinonso Opara, Martha Zepeda Rivera

Mary Gates Scholar: Justin De Leon, Denise Della, Mauna Edrozo, Brittany Harding, Shereen Khorami, Megan Lacy, Helen Lai, Nathan Ma, Kevin Magnaye, Chantal Murthy, Alex Nelson, Kien-Thiet Nguyen, Jose Pineda, Claire Powers, Neela Ramanujam, Keiko Weir, Yue Xiang, Simon Zhou, Jessie Zou

S.M.A.R.T. Challenge Winning Team: Alexis Brendible, Veronica Rodriguez, Yesenia Rosales, and Erica Chavez Santos

Emerging Researchers National Meeting Presentation Awardees: Klondy Canales and Thien-Y Le

Emerging Researchers National (ERN) Conference in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Presenters: Nadya Ali, Jennifer Cross, Rebecca de Frates, and Cynthia Wainaina

Biologists at the University of Washington have provided intensive institutes and workshops for teachers since 1987. From 1989 through 2012, our in-service teacher training programs were supported by a grant from the HHMI and introduced hundreds of teachers to hands-on exploration and experiences with life science as a process of inquiry and problem solving. In the past decade alone, over 450 K-12 teachers who had little or no background in science and who may have avoided teaching science in the past have been through our programs; 3 have gone on to win Science Teacher of the Year Awards! These teachers were selected primarily from urban schools with high minority enrollment and from disadvantaged rural environments, and they have reached an estimated 164,000 students from across the state of Washington.

For a brief overview of programs, please download the brochure.

Summer Institute In Life Science (SILS)

"Hands on Science!!!" is the SILS approach to science teaching. This popular program enrolled 20 teachers, primarily Grade 4-8 teachers, each year in a 4-week, intensive hands-on summer institute that was free for teachers. SILS introduced teachers to science investigations that used readily available materials developed for the middle-school classroom. Teachers engaged in open-ended inquiries with living organisms, designed experimental investigations, prepared a research poster as a teaching tool, and developed an inquiry curriculum unit. The focus was on practical ideas and tools for teaching life science.

Participants received 7 credits of Biol 491 upon successful completion of SILS and submission of curriculum project. SILS program faculty did follow-up visits to teachers at their schools to further support their applications of hands-on science in their classrooms.

To learn more about SILS:

View the 2011 SILS flyer.

Read a review of SILS from the newsletter Perspectives.

Read an article about in-service teacher programs, including SILS: "Raising Their Game" from HHMI Bulletin, February 2012.


Over 450 teachers in Washington have participated in SILS since its early beginnings in 1987. These teachers have come from as far away as Pullman, Port Angeles, Bellingham and Vancouver. It is estimated that SILS alumni have brought hands-on inquiry science to over 85,000 students. Word-of-mouth is responsible for the popularity of this institute.

We have learned a great deal from our alumni about SILS impact and want to learn more. To this end, we maintain an e-sils network to stay connected with teachers and to promote peer interactions.

In 2012, we also held a special meeting called "SILS Retrospective: Learning From Our Teachers" to bring SILS alumni and other experts together to assess urgent needs for teaching science and explore solutions to address those needs. A summary of the meeting and lessons learned will be posted on this site soon.

What participants say about SILS:

Before this class I thought science needed to be taught out of books. Now I know that science needs to be hands-on with children exploring the different aspects of science.

Every day for 4 weeks I woke up excited about what we were going to learn that day. This is the best science course I have ever taken.

The resources were fabulous - the Resource Center, the opportunity to use the Internet, meet guest speakers, field trips.... everything!

This was the best way I could spend 4 weeks of the summer. I hope to share with my school staff the enthusiasm I now have for teaching life science.

Thank you so much for turning me on to science...I have always avoided science like the plague... I know from now on I will teach real hands-on science to my kids and I will share my excitement about it with them.

For additional information:

Please contact Helen Buttemer, K-12 Teacher Training Programs Organizer.


Quarter Institute In Life Science (QuILS)

From 2004 to 2010, QuILS provided 2-credit evening courses for Grade 5-8 teachers and featured hands-on, investigative science for the classroom. Tuition and course materials were covered by a grant from the HHMI, so the course was free for teachers. Participants met for 10 evening lab sessions and received 2 credits of Biol 491 upon successful completion of QuILS.

Focus topics included: Introduction to Experiments with Cells, Human Genetics, Investigations with Microbes, How the Body Works - Activities and Useful Resources to Build, Activities in Nutritional Education, Activities for Sex Education, Activities in Drug Education, Neurobiology, Heart/Circulation, Bioethics Activities, Exercises for Health and Math.

QuILS sessions often included guests with special skills and expertise, including UW scientists, Puget Sound resource people, and alumni from past SILS or QuILS.

For additional information:

Please contact Katherine Glew, QuILS Instructor.


Visit Biology

The Visit Biology Project promoted and supported field trips of Grades 3-12 classes to the UW Greenhouse and Medicinal Herb Garden to learn about the extraordinary biology of plants. These visits continue to be supported by the Department of Biology. Trained docents, who are undergraduate and graduate students who show a strong interest in outreach and science education, lead the tours. UW-HHMI supported curricular activities that encourage student participation in the tour. Students think about how plants demonstrate such themes as Plant-Animal Interactions, Diversity in Flowers as related to Reproductive Strategies, and The Evolution of Plants. This learning experience poses intriguing problems for students to solve and new insights for students and teachers to take back to their classrooms.

To learn more about the tours, please see the UW Greenhouse web page.

For additional information:

Please contact Katherine Glew, Visit Biology Program Organizer.


National Lab Day

UW-HHMI and the Department of Biology celebrated National Lab Day in May 2010, 2011, and 2012. Each year, we hosted 75-80 fifth graders from local schools for a day of science. Over a dozen different laboratories opened their doors so our young visitors could join scientists in hands-on learning experiences. We thank our visitors, their teachers and parents, and our biology colleagues and undergraduate student ambassadors for making each NLD celebration a huge success!

Read the poster about 2010 NLD.

Read the University of Washington news article about NLD.


Teaching Materials for K-12 Science

For additional information:

Please contact Helen Buttemer, K-12 Teacher Training Programs Organizer.