A Note Regarding the Upcoming Primary Elections


Kansas Senate Districts- Image originally published by uselectionatlas.org

A month ago, our state was faced with a real danger of school closings over a legislative impasse in the Kansas Senate and House of Representatives. Prior to and during this special session, much was said about change being needed in Topeka. While no means the best situation for our students, a funding bill that should get us through the 2016-17 school year was passed, but there was no sign of any permanent change going forward. It’s similar to placing a bucket under a leaky roof to keep your floor dry; the legislation is not a solution to the real problem. With our state’s extended budget deficit and monthly tax revenue shortfalls, there isn’t much evidence this course leads to a better future situation.  Something needs to be done to generate a lasting solution to our problems.

On August 2nd you have a chance to affect real change in our state government. In Kansas (and other states) where one party has significant control and greater representation, primary elections are key to that change. You have a chance to decide between multiple candidates within your own party, ensuring that the candidates in November represent the best interests of the citizenry. By skipping the primary election, or voting without knowledge of the candidates, we vastly reduce the chance of anything changing in the next legislative session.

We at the Kansas Association of Biology Teachers encourage you to take 15 minutes out of your day to learn a little more about the candidates that are vying to represent your county, district, and state. If there is an issue that is most important to you, we further hope you take the time to contact the candidates or their campaign offices to learn more about their stance on those issues and what effect that might have on you and your families. As educators, we feel there is nothing more important than making careful, educated decisions based in evidence.

A list of candidates for all state and national elections can be found here: https://ballotpedia.org/Kansas_elections,_2016 or http://www.kssos.org/elections/elections_upcoming_candidate_display.asp

More information about the election and the electoral process can be found here: http://www.kssos.org/elections/elections.html  or  http://www.voteks.org/main.html

Voting locations can be found here: https://myvoteinfo.voteks.org/VoterView/PollingPlaceSearch.do

Thank you for your time, and for your help ensuring that our state has the leadership necessary to provide all Kansans with a state we can be proud of.


KABT Officers (Noah, Drew, Kelley, Michael, Kelly)

Post edited july 29th @ 19:45

TBT: Teaching Genetics in the 21st Century

Editor’s Note: Though not planned this way, let’s make it two in a row for Eric Kessler. He originally posted this in July 2012. With many of us starting to plan for the next school year, now is the perfect time for an article like Dr. Redfield’s. You may not agree with everything therein, but it is definitely thought-provoking. After reading the PLoS article, let us know what you think in the comments and we’ll get this conversation started. -AMI

Read this PLoS article

And the developing comments.


TBT: Synthetic Biology (July 2010)

Editors note: This post on Synthetic Biology was originally published on the BioBlog 18 July 2010. While he at one point mentions that he doesn’t “pretend to be an expert” on SynBio, author Eric Kessler has gone on to do some amazing work with his students in the field. Somethings have changed in six years (here is a story by Ed Yong from March 2016), but please enjoy this look back into our archives. 

The 21st Century Prometheans?

A little over a year ago, Brad posted a link to a survey on Synthetic Biology.  Although it appears that little has fundamentally changed since then, this burgeoning field, along side nanotechnology, has become front page news, and will hopefully become a topic of conversation in your biology class in the near future.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on Synthetic Biology but I thought a few resources may provide you with enough background knowledge to approach the topic with your students this year.  Maybe they could use this post itself as a springboard for discussion or more research.  The post is in three parts, each accompanied by some thought provoking quotes from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein…

Early Years and Standford’s Drew Endy

In these links you will will find a reference to one of the first papers in the field, a few comic responses to the field, and links to two YouTube videos (originally TED Talks) of Drew Endy explaining the difference between Synthetic Biology and the more standard and familiar recombinant DNA and genetic engineering technologies.

“The world was to him a secret which he desired to divine. Curiosity, earnest research to learn the hidden laws of nature, gladness akin to rapture, as they were unfolded to him, are among the earliest sensations he can remember . . . It was the secrets of heaven and earth that he desired to learn; and whether it was the outward substance of things or the inner spirit of nature and the mysterious soul of man that occupied him, still his inquiries were directed to the metaphysical, or in it highest sense, the physical secrets of the world.”

  1. Synthetic Biology: Engineering Escherichia coli to see light (November 2005)
  2. Nature’s comic on Synthetic Biology (November 2005)
  3. The Story of Synthia – another comic look at synthetic biology
  4. Synthetic Biology Organization with a press link to numerous popular critiques of synthetic biology
  5. SEED’s Cribsheet on Synthetic Biology (July 2010)

(June 2007)

(December 2008)

Venter creates the News & President Obama’s Responds

“There was none among the myriads of men that existed who would pity or assist me; and should I feel kindness towards my enemies? No: from that moment I declared everlasting war against the species, and, more than all, against him who had formed me and sent me forth to this insupportable misery.”

(May 2010)

  1. The President’s Emerging Technologies Interagency Policy Coordination Committee’s Inaugural Meeting (May 2010)
  2. NPR Story, Presidential Panel Scrutinizes Synthetic Biology (July 2010)

Resources for those interested in Doing some Synthetic Biology

The following resources are for entering the field of Synthetic Biology.  The first link will introduce you to an annual competition used to motivate undergraduate teams of students to design and engineer novel pathways in E. coli.  If you search around, I think that you’ll find that there has been a single high school team involved in the competition before.  Some of university sponsors are quite interested in developing a kit to introduce students to the methods synthetic biology.

  1. iGEM 2010
  2. Authentic Teaching and Learning through Synthetic Biology based the E. coli engineered to sense light
  3. The BioBricks Foundation
  4. Registry of Standard Biological Parts
  5. BioBrick Assembly Kit from New England BioLabs

“‘The labours of men of genius, however erroneously directed, scarcely ever fail in ultimately turning to the solid advantage of mankind.”

CALL FOR PROPOSALS- KABT Fall Conference 2016

Colleagues!  It is my pleasure to invite you to fill out a proposal to share your experiences with the KABT membership at our Fall Conference. This year’s conference will take place 9/10/2016 on the campus of Emporia State University. Our conference theme is the use of organisms in the classroom, and biohazard safety, storage, and disposal. Please fill out the proposal form below. If you have any questions, contact Drew Ising at andrewising@gmail.com. Thank you for your time, and we look forward to receiving your presentation proposals!

An Open Letter to my AP Biology Students

To my AP Biology students,


The scores are out and they are not what we wanted. The results are surprising and disappointing. The numbers on this report do not represent the competency I led you to believe you had developed this year. We have stumbled, together; we must now become better from this struggle.


I made some difficult choices this year in the pursuit of including more students in our course. From the outset I told you it would be different from past years, and it was. There is an answer I know and it is the application of tremendous effort and rapid coverage. That work has earned previous students success on exams past, but those methods left too many excluded from growth or discouraged from the larger pursuit of science. I am sad, but I am not sorry.


You worked hard all year long. Each one of you grew as a scientist and as a learner. You explored topics that interested you and made plans for the future. You considered yourself in a new light as you saw what the future might hold. Our course was not one in which you simply survived, and in May each of you left with justified assurance of what you had learned and awareness of what you had not. Your confidence, knowledge and growth is my greatest victory this year. I am proud, but I am not satisfied.


This is a moment when I am reminded my choices matter. My professional freedom has an impact on your life. These scores do not define you as scientists, but they do have consequence. We could have done better. It is my fault. I could have made different choices. I long for a control class to run with my students to know if I made good or bad choices. I must smile at the irony of teaching a natural science through social science. I am confused, but I am resolute.


I still believe in practice and supporting re-consolidation with the same primacy as learning. I will struggle in the coming months to incorporate this new data into my understanding of our class’ achievement. I refuse to revert to my previous model because I believe in you and what you’ve done more than test scores. Our time together has been my greatest work as a teacher. But so will next year’s. Remain invested. Believe in the growth you’ve seen and felt.
We need revision, but we are not finished.