Top photo: Associate Professor Edwin Barea-Rodriguez (center)
and Jensen Learning co-founder Eric Jensen (right) with teachers;
Lower photo: Teachers at brain lecture.
UTSA student organization conducts teacher tour to promote interest in science
By Bronwyn Wingo
Special Projects Writer, UTSA '05
(July 5, 2005)--The UTSA student organization, Biosciences Ph.D. Students (BiPS), hosted its annual BiPS teacher tours June 9 for participants from across the United States.
Each year, BiPS organizes a tour of the UTSA 1604 Campus for nearly 100 teachers at various levels to offer a first-hand look at the latest ways to educate students about the brain.
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Jensen Learning Corp., which offers staff development resources, organizes the trips to help teachers learn about brain functions and the areas of the brain associated with learning.
The highlight of the annual tours is a hands-on brain lecture by Edwin Barea-Rodriguez, UTSA associate professor of biology. Tour members are given a basic explanation of the brain's parts, and then examine rat and human brains.
"We've been learning about how the different parts of the brain are related to learning," said Aimee Evans, a teacher from Conway, Ark., on the tour. "I don't know a word other than 'cool' to describe what it has been like to be able to come here and see all the different parts of the brain we have been studying."
Although Jensen takes the group to several campuses during the weeklong training session, UTSA is a favorite. "I picked UTSA because they are so strong in biology, but I think community outreach is important, too," says Eric Jensen, co-founder of Jensen Learning. "Many universities or institutes begrudgingly share with outsiders, but at UTSA, they love it."
BiPS students are enthusiastic about having teachers on campus. "The tours are a good opportunity to show teachers what brain research is and dispel that notion of a Frankenstein-type research lab," says BiPS member Brandon Goertz. "Ideally, we hope they take back some inspiration for the kids toward science. Fewer children are studying math and science, so anything that sparks an interest is nice."
Coordinated entirely by the student organization, the teacher tours are the primary annual fund-raiser for BiPS. In exchange for allowing the professional groups to visit the campus for the half-day of laboratory and classroom tours, Jensen Learning Company makes a generous contribution to the student organization to use for other social and academic activities.
"The group was founded primarily as a social organization," said BiPS member Floretta Jones, a fourth-year UTSA doctoral student. "Events like this provide the funding that we need for those types of activities."
For more information on BiPS, contact Brian Bauereis at (210) 363-4354.