Public Release: 

APS promotes innovative science teaching practices with "Frontiers in Physiology"

American Physiological Society

July 20, 2001 - Bethesda, Md. - As part of an ongoing effort to improve science education, the American Physiological Society (APS) will host 14 teachers from across the country at a week-long retreat focused on laboratory research and the exploration of innovative and effective science teaching methods. The retreat will run July 23-29 and is part of the APS Frontiers in Physiology program. Frontiers in Physiology fellowships provide teachers with stipends to cover their full-time summer participation in a research laboratory, as well as travel expenses to attend the retreat and a major scientific meeting.

The goal of Frontiers in Physiology is to provide a laboratory research experience to middle- and high-school-level teachers. In learning research techniques and following the scientific process from start to finish, the teachers (and subsequently their students) gain a greater understanding of science. The summer program pairs each teacher with an APS member who makes the teacher part of his/her research team. Teachers also learn effective education strategies that help them translate their research experience into classroom labs.

Midway through the Frontiers in Physiology program, teachers go on a week-long summer retreat, which will take place at the Airlie House Conference Center in Warrenton, Va. This serves as a break in their laboratory activity and allows the teachers to explore and share their experiences with other summer research teachers. While on retreat the teachers will explore a variety of experiments and activities including a study of aggressive vs. submissive behavior in Siamese Fighting Fish, an exploration of factors that affect blood flow and blood pressure in humans and Project WISE, an online effort to promote an inquiry-based approach to scientific problems. During the retreat, teachers can also speak with former summer research fellows who return to mentor, share best practices, and contribute anecdotes about how the Frontiers in Physiology has improved both their understanding of science and their approach to teaching.

Siamese Fighting Fish: The male fish of this species are notorious for their ritualistic and sometimes hostile behavior in threatening situations involving other males or even their own reflections in a mirror. In this experiment, teachers will place a mirror in front of the fish bowl to observe and compare the aggressive and submissive reactions of the fish in a threatening atmosphere.

The Elvis Experiments: This experiment, named after Elvis Presley, who had high blood pressure, tests different factors that may influence blood flow and pressure in various situations. Teachers will use tubing, beakers and liquids of varying viscosities (thickness) to simulate the flow of blood in vessels.

Project WISE: This interactive, online learning environment developed by the University of California - Berkeley will take place in the high-tech computer facility at Airlie House. Teachers will participate in both hands-on and online activities and discussions to explore the debate on bacterial contamination in organically vs. traditionally grown foods.

APS began its summer research programs in 1990 with 10 high school science teachers. Since its beginnings, more than 220 teachers have participated in the laboratories of 130 APS members nationwide. Each teacher receives a grant of up to $8,500 for research laboratory expenses as well as travel expenses to the retreat and the APS annual meeting, Experimental Biology 2002.


For more information on Frontiers in Physiology and other APS education programs, visit the APS web site at or e-mail:

The American Physiological Society is a nonprofit, professional society that seeks to integrate the life sciences from molecule to organism. The Society is dedicated to fostering research, education and the dissemination of information about the function of the body and its organ systems. APS supports a variety of educational activities including programs and fellowships to promote excellence in education at the professional level. Founded in 1887, its membership now includes more than 10,000 professionals in science and medicine.

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