The On the Cutting Edge website has been awarded the Science Prize for Online Resources in Education (SPORE). The prize honors the work of On the Cutting Edge PIs, Heather Macdonald, Dave Mogk, Barb Tewksbury, and Cathy Manduca, the contributions of hundreds of geoscience faculty to the site content, and the efforts of SERC staff, Sean Fox, Karin Kirk, John McDaris, Carol Ormand, Monica Bruckner, and Ellen Iverson in developing and evaluating the site. An essay about On the Cutting Edge appears in the Feb 26 issue of Science.
SPORE was designed to honor and promote the originators of the best online materials available to science educators. The contest bears the acronym SPORE—meaning a reproductive element adapted to develop, often in inhospitable conditions, into something new—with the idea that these winning projects may be the seed for valuable progress, despite widespread challenges to educational innovation. Science publishes an article by each recipient of the award explaining each winning project.
"We're trying to advance science education," says Bruce Alberts, editor-in-chief of Science. "This competition will provide much-needed recognition for innovators in the field whose efforts promise significant benefits for students and for science literacy in general. The publication in Science of an article on each Web site will help guide education around the globe to valuable free resources that might otherwise be missed."
On the Cutting Edge provides an important mechanism for geoscience faculty to learn from one another and from other experts in teaching and learning. In 2009, visitors to On the Cutting Edge numbered more than 700,000. They visited the site's 3,000 pages a total of 850,000 times. The site contains more than 1,200 classroom activities contributed by the teaching community, and includes step-by-step instructions for how to put new techniques into place. The Web site also includes a wide variety of visual tools for use in the classroom, such as artistic renderings, visually represented data, and video and models of the Earth's processes.
The On the Cutting Edge professional development project for geoscience faculty is sponsored by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, funded by the National Science Foundation Course Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement Program, and contributes to the National Science Digital Libarary.