The Synapse

About this site

A SYNAPSE is a minute gap between nerve cells which transmits crucial information through the nervous system. The goal of this network is to perform a similar "synaptic" function between biology instructors of all levels and locations.

Step one in participation within The Synapse: read & explore. Step two: share. Feed the system. Be a resource. Help to create a synapse that communicates in both directions!

Latest Activity

Cindy Warber is now a member of The Synapse
Profile IconVianey Alonso, Johanna Schrage and Linsey Rose joined The Synapse
Aug 11
Lori Young is now a member of The Synapse
Jul 18
Mary Fusco is now a member of The Synapse
Jun 24
Profile IconDawn Lipenta and Kristin Scherman joined The Synapse
May 22
Profile IconJim Gamble, Sarah C, Jessica Butler and 6 more joined The Synapse
May 13
Profile IconJanet Mihuc and Clay Crawford joined The Synapse
Jan 28
Aron Early joined Stacy Baker's group

General Biology

This group is for those who teach introductory biology courses typically taken by high school students their freshman or sophomore year.
Jan 18
Aron Early updated their profile
Jan 18
Elvira Theresa Brand replied to Lissa Clelland's discussion Unit Labs in the group General Biology
"Last year after the EOC we had on-site field trips with the Forestry Service and the DEP. If you have trails or wetlands on campus this works. I have also had the fish and wildlife people come in and setup stations."
Oct 13, 2013
Lissa Clelland added a discussion to the group General Biology

Unit Labs

My co-workers and I just found out that we will not be giving our state test this year, which means I do not have to finish all of my curriculum by the first of May!  We have only ever done 1-2 labs during the year because we had to cram so much in before the state test but we would like to add more to the curriculum now.  Does anyone have some awesome labs they are willing to share?   Thanks!See More
Oct 13, 2013
Lissa Clelland joined Elissa Hoffman's group

AP Biology

As my students sighed the other day when I assigned yet another reading, "The AP doesn't stand for "Awesome Party", does it?" Nope. But it's a great class anyway!See More
Oct 13, 2013
Lissa Clelland joined Stacy Baker's group

General Biology

This group is for those who teach introductory biology courses typically taken by high school students their freshman or sophomore year.
Oct 13, 2013
Lissa Clelland joined Colin Matheson's group

Fervent Evolution Discussion

The great debate in many high school classes: how to teach evolution, the line between science and faith, etc.
Oct 13, 2013
Lissa Clelland updated their profile
Oct 13, 2013
Profile IconAshley Weizeorick, Rebecca Schulze, Michael Kekic and 2 more joined The Synapse
Oct 13, 2013


Birthdays Today

Birthdays Tomorrow





Help with APBio Energy Dynamics 3 Replies

Hello all,Mostly I just lurk around the discussions so thanks for all of past support.   I am planning on preforming Investigation 10 Energy dynamics in  September and am having a problem. For the…Continue

Tags: 10, Investigation, Bio, AP

Started by Paula in Ask A Veteran. Last reply by Paula Sep 9, 2012.

Lab 10 - Energy Dynamics -using Fast Plants

I am hoping to perform Lab 10 the first week of Sept - I have never used Fast Plants.  How long do I need to allot for the Fast Plants to grow?  and where do I get the larvae?  Perhaps I have missed…Continue

Started by Cynthia Lingo in Ask A Veteran Aug 21, 2012.

Student-centered plan for teaching 4 Replies

By request :) (and thanks - I wouldn't have thought to do this....), sharing a plan for my AP evolution unit this is limited on lecture, and uses a lot of different activities/labs/whiteboards to get…Continue

Tags: Whiteboards, Evolution, instruction, Student-centered, Biology

Started by Jen in Lesson Plans. Last reply by Jen Aug 25, 2011.

Science Fair 7 Replies

The science fair is one of the best teaching strategies I have encountered after almost 20 years of schooling and 7 years of teaching.It teachers the scientific method and project managementIt allows…Continue

Tags: projects, PBL, fair, science

Started by Colin Matheson in Lesson Plans. Last reply by Virginia Jan 30, 2011.

Is it reasonable to label viruses, prions, and the like as "bordercases of life?" 5 Replies

Some references (textbooks, journals, and modules) refer to viruses and prions as "bordercases of life." Is the label justified or reasonable?

Tags: prions, viruses

Started by Mike Mantala in Information Requests. Last reply by Mike Mantala Jan 24, 2011.

How Well Does High School Biology Prepare Students for College? 3 Replies

Hi Everyone, I'm on the final stage of data collection for my Master's project. My study focuses on the transition between high school and college biology courses, in terms of content knowledge…Continue

Tags: research, biology, general, survey

Started by Marta Toran in Information Requests. Last reply by Marta Toran Jan 22, 2011.

Interested in a book club? 14 Replies

Is anyone interested in a book club? If so, I'll start a group. But we should pick a book first (if anyone is even interested). My dad just sent me Evolution: The First Four Billion Years. It would…Continue

Tags: club, book

Started by David Knuffke in Collaborative Mini-Projects. Last reply by Ian Carmichael Jan 6, 2011.

Teaching with Socioscientific Issues & the Environmentalist's Paradox 1 Reply

Hi everyone,I just posted this message in the Environmental Science group, but then found this Forum and thought it might be relevant here too. Please do let me know which is the more appropriate…Continue

Tags: paradox, environmentalist's, issues, module

Started by Susan Musante in Lesson Plans. Last reply by Colin Matheson Oct 11, 2010.

Teaching Science Methods 6 Replies

Hi. I come to science teaching from a research background, not an education background, so one thing I struggle with is how to teach the practice of science that to me is second nature. Does anyone…Continue

Tags: skills, methods, pedagogy

Started by Tamar Cunha in Information Requests. Last reply by Gwen Noda Jun 7, 2010.

Using Drosophila in the Biology Classroom

Hi everyone! Would you do me a big favor and fill out this really quick survey? After completing the survey can you give me some tips on how to…Continue

Started by Stacy Baker in Current Issues in Biology May 20, 2010.

Admin by committee

The Synapse is a collaborative effort originating from a discussion in the Twittersphere between biology instructors of many levels. On that day, it was decided that we needed a central place to meet, share and support one another from afar. Collaborating to facilitate and support this site are:
Debra Garcia

Colin Matheson
Stacy Baker
Elissa Hoffman
Glen Westbroek
Michael Doyle
Erin Nash
Sean Nash

If you have questions or concerns about something on the site, feel free to contact any of us directly via the link provided.

Blog Posts

National Curriculum in Australia - Mining Industry influences EES course!

I write to you having just returned from the Australian Science Teachers Association annual conference, held in Canberra over four days. This was a fantastic opportunity to hear about contemporary science in action from experts in a variety of fields. However, my observations and discussions over the past few days have been of great concern with respect to the state of education for sustainability in Australia.

I have been the member of several expert panels to provide feedback to… Continue

Posted by Britt Gow on July 21, 2012 at 6:06pm

Off The Grid

We’re off once again. Trying to contact me, or one of my little band of students, in the coming week will be next to impossible. We’ll be completely off the grid. We’ll be far from the pace that guides us in this country today. We’ll be far from conducting “school” in…


Posted by Sean Nash on April 23, 2012 at 1:30pm

A scavenger hunt quiz?

Today my students used the ActivExpression's self-paced option differently than I have done before. Students previously how to measure the mass and volume of different objects. They also had learned to calculate the density using mass and volume.


I set up a “Performance Assessment” that involved the ActivExpressions. The classroom had 21 “Stations” labeled A-U.  Each station had the materials needed for the assessment question assigned to it. Questions were assigned to be…


Posted by Glen Westbroek on October 27, 2011 at 4:58pm

Softening the Walls of a Science Classroom


If you have never watched Creature Cast, you should. Creature Cast is fun, and fun is good.

Seriously, if you haven’t noticed it, and you teach in the field of Biological sciences, you should notice it, if not for the content,…


Posted by Erin Nash on March 20, 2011 at 10:11am

Are You Smarter than a 7th Grader?

Several teachers expressed interest in a common assessment form we use at my school. My school has grades 7-9 and several students often struggle with Science Processes and Skills. My science teaching team decided to come up with a fun way to review these processes and skills. This is done in a bi-weekly quiz we call "Are You Smarter than a 7th Grader?"

I've attached two different…

Posted by Glen Westbroek on November 30, 2010 at 9:00pm

Online Learning Networks in Science - An Interview

Nature EdCast

In keeping with the concept of using my blog as not only a synthesis of what I think, but also of what I do, I add this post. Last week I recorded a telephone interview with the folks at natureEDUCATION on the topic of online learning… Continue

Posted by Sean Nash on October 15, 2010 at 4:21pm

The Synapse Builds Partnership

A couple of years ago a few of my digital friends and I brought this space to life: The Synapse. A week later I wrote about it here. The site derives its origin directly from a frustrating discussion in the Twittersphere between biology instructors of many… Continue

Posted by Sean Nash on October 2, 2010 at 10:30pm

Building Research Skills

Another integral part of the scientific process is research. Since 90%

of what student will read as adults will be for information, learning to

locate and analyze information is a skill that will benefit them

throughout their life. Researching promotes critical thinking

processes, enabling students to make informed decisions and solve

problems. The University of Pennsylvania says teaching research skills

can help students gain “confidence and facility in using… Continue

Posted by The Scientific Homeschool on September 18, 2010 at 11:46am

The Ancient Practice of Observation

A Fundamental Science Skill

Observation has been the touchstone of objectivity in science for thousands of years. It has been used by humanity throughout history to record a hunt or battle, track the passage of time and seasons, detail

the success of an exploration or follow the progress of illness in a


Aristotle said of observation: “We value our sight above almost everything else. The reason for this is that of all the senses sight makes…


Posted by The Scientific Homeschool on September 9, 2010 at 8:33am — 1 Comment

Observations and Inferences

I recently read the…


Posted by Glen Westbroek on August 14, 2010 at 11:09pm



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