2016 Fall Conference Agenda

The KABT Fall Conference is returning to Emporia State University 10 September 2016 after many years alternating between the KU Field Station and Konza Prairie. We hope that you can join us for a day of collaboration where we can guarantee you something you can take back and use in your classroom the next week.

Many of the presentations at our 2016 Conference will focus on the use biological specimens, live organisms, and hazardous materials with students and in an educational setting. Our presenters are classroom teachers, professionals from regulatory agencies, and college professors.

2016 Conference Map

The conference will take place on the ESU Campus in the Science Building (highlighted yellow on the map). Free parking will be available in the lot located behind the Science Building (orange on the map). The conference cost is $15 and KABT memberships (starting at $15) can be purchased or renewed at the door.

Conference presentations proposals can be submitted here (closing soon). The current agenda is available here: KABT_2016ConferenceAgenda.

If you have any questions, please contact Drew Ising at drewising@gmail (email) or @ItsIsing (Twitter).

Conference Agenda

8:15-9:00AM Registration. Light refreshments available.

9:00AM Welcome, Introduction

9:05-10:00 AM Captain Dan Melson, Law Enforcement and Daren Riedle, Wildlife Diversity Coordinator, KDWPT.  Current Kansas Wildlife Regulations Relevant to High School & College Biology Teachers”

10:00-10:40AM Brian Burbeck, Compliance, Assistance & Enforcement Unit, Kansas Department of Health & Environment, Bureau of Waste Management. “Current Hazardous Materials Regulations Relevant to Kansas Biology Teacher”


10:50-11:25AM Charles Krumins, Compliance, Assistance & Enforcement Unit, Kansas Department of Health & Environment, Bureau of Waste Management. “Current Hazardous Materials Regulations Relevant to Kansas Biology Teachers—II”

11:25-11:55AM Peggy Shaver, DVM MPH, USDA-APHIS-Animal Care, Fort Collins, CO. Overview of the Animal Welfare Act for Biology Teachers”

12:00-1:00PM LUNCH. KABT Members will meet from 11:55-12:05 to vote on KABT Officers and Representatives.

1:00-1:30PM Supervisor Dwayne Holsapple, Kansas City Office, Drug Enforcement Administration. “Scheduled Drugs, Symptoms, and Enforcement within the Educational Setting”

1:30-1:50PM Michael Ralph, Biology Teacher and Author, Biology Rocks! New Options in Animal Behavior and Experimental Design”


1:55-2:25PM Kelley Tuel and Jessica Popescu, Biology Teachers, Blue Valley Center for Advanced Professional Studies (BV CAPS) and Seaman High School (Topeka). “Sickness at the Salad Bar: CDC Workshop Lessons”  [Materials provided]

2:25-3:15PM Bill Welch, Biology Teacher, Derby High School. Bioenergetics and Food Webs, an Insect/Plant Model [Materials Available]

3:20-3:45PM Noah Busch, Biology Teacher, Manhattan High School. “Determining Mosquito Distribution from Egg Data:  The Role of the Citizen Scientist”


3:50-4:35PM Jane Hunt, Kansas Corn Commission. DNA and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) [Door Prizes]

4:35-5:00PM Jessica Popescu, Biology Teacher, Seaman High School (Topeka). “Modifications and Accommodation in STEM”

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!

In My Classroom – #1

Some of us spoke at the KABT Executive Meeting this year about a new segment that I’d like to introduce: In My Classroom. This is a segment that will post about every two weeks from a new member. In 250 words or less, share one thing that you are currently doing in your classroom. That’s it.

The idea is that we all do cool stuff in our rooms, and to some people there have been cool things so long that it feels like they are old news. In this segment, if you are tagged all you need to do is share something you’ve done in your classroom in the last two weeks. It must be recent, but that’s it. If you are tagged, you’ve got two weeks to post your entry. Who knows… your supposedly mundane idea, lesson, or lab might be exactly what someone else really needs. Keep it brief, keep it honest about the time window, and share it out! Here we go:

Last week I built a new method for selecting study plots during field ecology work. The content isn’t close for my students, but I tested the build and sure enough I think I like it.

Twine, wooden dowel, masking tape, and pennies.
Twine, wooden dowel, masking tape, and pennies.

Twine that is 56.4cm long will trace a circle with an area of 1.00m^2. Add 2cm to use to attach the twine to one end of 10cm of dowel, and tape a few pennies a couple centimeters from the other end to weight the dart properly. Now it throws straight and true, with the weight and the twine tail making it a “sampling dart”. Wherever it lands, draw the circle and count your organisms.

It solves the problem of making random(ish) samples in an area, plus it makes it easier for students to measure out 1m^2 study plots.

That’s it for me, so Chris Elniff is on the clock!

Collaboratory Assessment

Watch this session below or at the new KABTv page.

If you weren’t able to attend the 2014 KABT Fall Conference, I presented a session on how to provide students with group assessments which still hold each student accountable for their own individual learning. My experience using collaboration on assessments began after I read an article from Popular Science about a professor, Peter Nonacs, from UCLA who was trying to provide his students with a lesson in Game Theory. I have never been the most vocal advocate for tests in general, and final exams specifically, but even I was uncomfortable with the idea of every student taking the same test, and only answering one question. However, after some reflection, I began to realize that, had I properly done my job, my students shouldn’t need 50 or 100 multiple-choice questions to prove they had mastered the content. In my elective classes especially, my own personal goals were not to create student-experts in Microbiology, Environmental Science, or Prairie Ecology; what I wanted was to have students that could solve problems, think critically, evaluate complex issues, conduct investigations, and communicate science effectively. None of these goals necessitates the creation and existence of a multiple-choice test. So I decided to give it a try.

To sum up the experience: I loved it. My students, in 90 minutes, showed me everything I could have wished for and exceeded my own inflated expectations of their ability. In the same vein as the author of the article I had read, I wrote the most difficult questions I could. I gave my students advanced warning regarding the format of the exam. I encouraged my students to prove to me that, given a challenge unlike any they had faced before, they would rise to the occasion and perform creatively and with maturity beyond their years. I even gave them the email addresses and phone numbers of several experts I knew in our area, people that knew more about the subject than my students could possibly learn in their semester-long elective course. And they did everything I could have asked for. They wrote up a plan and agreed to stick to it. They all took a job and completed their individual tasks. They peer-edited, shared sources, and encouraged each other. They took their draft to other teachers in the building (Luckily the AP Government and Economics teachers were on their plan periods), and asked them to contribute a quote for their final paper and asked for feedback. And they completed the assignment on time, with smiles on their faces. This may come as a surprise, but a smile is not the normal response I receive at the end of an exam.

But the best part? My “best” student and my “worst” both told me the same thing after class. They said that it was the hardest, best test they had ever taken, and they thought that it would prepare them to be successful after high school. And that’s the point, isn’t it? Our students are like our own children, and we want them to have the best possible chance to be successful once they leave our classrooms.  The current assessment model is unrealistic. After students complete a traditional 4-year college education, very few people have to pass a multiple choice exam in their jobs on a regular basis. Perhaps for licensing purposes, but not for any other reason that I have ever experienced. If they want to advance, they need to be able to work in groups, finish their assigned tasks, solve problems, present their information, and complete difficult jobs that have no known solutions. And if they’ve never practiced that before they encounter that situation, how likely are they to succeed?

At the end of this post, I have attached the original questions which I used in my Environmental Science course that first year. I encourage you to read the original Popular Science article, then use my questions, adapt them, or ignore them and make your own even-better questions for your students. Even if they fail, the teachable moment will be a powerful one, and it can be a lesson that sticks with them for years to come. And besides, Dr. Nonacs isn’t kidding: their faces are priceless when you first describe the test to them.

If you take the leap, let me know how it goes; I can’t wait to hear about it!

Drew Ising can be reached at aisingon@olatheschools.org (email), @Mr_Ising (Twitter) or at 920-Ising-Ed (SMS).

EnvEco_FinalQuestions_KABT (PDF)

EnvEco_FinalQuestions_KABT (DOCX)

KABT_CollaboratoryExams (Conference Presentation, PDF)

Biomolecular Modeling

With the new NGSS rollout, the science and engineering practices have become a major topic of interest and relevance. Through an application and selection process at MSOE and 3D Molecular, Inc, I was selected to be a part of a group of teachers receiving training on Drugs, Drug Targets, Neural Processing, and Drug Addiction. During the NIH-funded seminar, I learned a great deal about the power of modeling and effective methods of implementation. Whether you have the resources to purchase models or make them on your own, using models in the biology classroom is a great way to enhance your students’ education, embrace the new standards, and provide opportunities for critical thinking on hard-to-grasp concepts.


Models-Based Science Teaching by Steven W. Gilbert: 

Biomolecular Modeling, MSOE