March 2009 Newsletter:

Practical Biology website

As mentioned elsewhere, and as evidence of the Society's commitment to the promotion of education in the biosciences and in neuroendocrinology in particular, I am pleased to confirm that the Society is now a Principal Sponsor of the Biosciences Federation/Nuffield Curriculum Centre Practical Biology website ( The aim of the site is to provide teachers with good quality, stage-appropriate biology experiments and investigations that are fun and motivating, and that will enhance learning, clarify aspects of theory, and provide students with experience of making experiments work in the classroom. Our sponsorship (as detailed in Alison's Treasurer's report and in the AGM minutes) of £10k in total is another example of the Society punching above its weight, in no small part due to our income from the Journal. The sponsorship gives us a seat on the Steering Group for the website and the opportunity to directly influence the development of the website and promote our own scientific specialisation.

At present, the website contains a small number of complete practicals at each of the four levels of complexity (Introductory, Intermediate, Advanced and Enhancement), but the Resource Developer for the site will be adding considerably to the scope of what is available over the coming months.

As Chair of the BSN out-reach sub-committee, I attended the latest meeting of the Steering Group on February 16th, and it is clear that both the BSN and the Society for Endocrinology (another Principal Sponsor) should be able to develop a variety of exciting resources, possibly jointly, to capture the imagination of students at different levels. Obvious subject areas relevant to the BSN that might appeal to the scientists of the future would include sex, stress, rhythms, energy balance etc. These could be hands-on-practicals (maybe not in the case of sex!) or drier lab resources focussed on technologies or data analysis. I will be arranging a meeting in the near future between our sub-committee (Allison Fulford, Simon McArthur, Jon Johnston and myself) and the Resource Developer to take this forward.

In the meantime, if any member is interested in contributing to this initiative and would like to propose approaches that could be considered by the sub-committee and the Resource Developer, I would be very pleased to hear from you.

Julian Mercer, Aberdeen