Kellogg Biological Station’s GK-12 Program

 

What is the KBS GK-12 Program? In 2010, KBS representatives Getty, Anderson, Gross, Lau, Robertson, and Tinghitella were awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation for a new GK-12 (Graduate STEM Fellows in K-12 Education) Program called the KBS GK-12 Bioenergy Sustainability Project. You can find a slideshow overview and introduction to our project here and a summary here. This program is part of a national network of GK-12 sites funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) with the common goal of providing science graduate students with skills that will broadly prepare them for their future careers, particularly communicating science with varied audiences. Through interactions with teachers and students in K-12 schools, graduate students are expected to improve communication and teaching skills while enriching science instruction in K-12 schools. For more information about the GK-12 program and links to GK-12 projects in other states, visit the National GK-12 website.

Tomomi and students in a BEST plot, 2012 Our GK-12 project has partnered with fifteen rural school districts in SW Michigan, all of whom are part of the ongoing K-12 Partnership at Kellogg Biological Station. In fall of 2010 we established a network of schoolyard research plots (see the BEST Research Network tab) at 22 schools in these 15 districts. The plots mimic those used at the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center to conduct experiments testing the sustainability of bioenergy crops like switchgrass and native prairie. Students and teachers at our partner schools are asking the question “Can we grow our fuel and our flowers and butterflies too?

Please contact program director Tom Getty (getty@msu.edu) or program manager Sarah Bodbyl (bodbyl@msu.edu) for more information on the KBS GK-12 Bioenergy Sustainability Project.

Important Articles about the KBS GK-12 Bioenergy Research Project
Building Evolutionary Trees: how did New World Oriole colors evolve?

Building Evolutionary Trees: how did New World Oriole colors evolve?

Evolutionary trees are incredibly useful tools for evolutionary biologists.  However, students often struggle with interpreting even simple evolutionary trees.  The AP biology exam frequently asks students to interpret evolutionary trees or even build their own cladogram (simple evolutionary tree).  This lesson is designed to prepare students for this exercise.  At the beginning of this lesson students receive an introduction to the concepts of common ancestry, parsimony, and how evolutionary trees can be used to address evolutionary hypotheses.  Students then use a simplified data set from a real scientific paper on the evolution of color in orioles to build their own evolutionary tree.  At the end of the lesson students discover that the simplest tree based on color changes is slightly different than the published tree based on genetic sequences.  This emphasizes the point that evolutionary trees are hypotheses and that [...]

Who's the bravest of them all? Using inquiry to explore cricket behavior

Who’s the bravest of them all? Using inquiry to explore cricket behavior

Inquiry based activities are one of the best ways to teach science to students.  Students build a comprehension of the scientific method through exposure to the process of conducting research.  Having students take an active role in collecting data and gathering evidence keeps them engaged while reinforcing the critical notion that claims be supported by evidence.  This lesson plan provides teachers with a fun but relatively simple template for creating student research projects using antipredator behavior in crickets.  Students will examine hiding behavior in crickets and determine how/whether certain variables of interest (e.g. sex, food availability, light level, etc.) influence hiding. At the conclusion of the lesson, students will be able to: Understand the components of the scientific method Design experiments to test specific hypotheses Interpret data Use evidence to support claims Understand how predators can influence prey behavior Understand [...]

A Game of Selection: Exploring Evolution by Natural Selection

A Game of Selection: Exploring Evolution by Natural Selection

A strong understanding of evolution is paramount to any education in biology.  In this lesson students will be introduced to the concept of evolution and natural selection using a combination of presentation, worksheet, and several outdoor games and demonstrations.  These activities will emphasis how populations change over time as a result of evolution by natural selection.  Students will learn how we define evolution and natural selection, as well as the key components required for natural selection to occur.  Using a series of demonstrations, students will also learn about the different forms of selection (directional, stabilizing, disruptive).  Finally, these activities can all be used to identify and discuss the inaccuracies of several misconceptions of evolution by natural selection. At the conclusion of the lesson, students will be able to: Explain what evolution is and how to define it Explain what natural [...]

Expecting the Unexpected: Adventures in Critical Thinking

Expecting the Unexpected: Adventures in Critical Thinking

How do we know we can trust a source or a claim made by someone? What constitutes “good science”? Knowing the answers to these questions is an important critical thinking skill for all students and is even more important in this digital age where students are exposed to information from many different sources with varying degrees of accuracy and qualifications. Everyone, including your students, is constantly facing confusing news stories and conflicting data and evaluating these claims requires the ability to think critically about all the information being thrown at them. This lesson contains activities that you can do with your middle and high school students to teach them critical thinking skills such as the importance of attempting to disprove a hypothesis, using hypotheses to make testable predictions, and examining a recent case of “bad science” that has resulted in [...]

Farming for Ecosystem Services

Farming for Ecosystem Services

In this lesson students will explore the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem services, from basic ecological theory to their economic value. Provided with a short introduction to the types of ecosystem services and their importance, students will play a game where they must make decisions regarding how to invest a limited amount of money on their own for-profit farm—can they manage economic and ecological tradeoffs to design a productive farm that also enhances ecosystem services?   At the conclusion of the lesson, students will be able to: Define “ecosystem services” and explain the difference between supporting, provisioning, regulating, and cultural services. Compare and contrast “ecosystem services” and “ecosystem function” and explain the importance of each Using evidence obtained from a classroom activity, explain the biodiversity-ecosystem function hypothesis Justify decision-making in a farming simulation as decisions relate to economic and ecological [...]

Seeing the forest from the trees

Seeing the forest from the trees

What controls the structure of forests and the leaves within that forest?  Individual leaves have very different shapes and even colors, but together they make up the forest canopy that traps light and water. This lesson aims to help students understand how the form of leaves and trees follows from the function of how plants use light and water. At the beginning of the class, instructors will lead a discussion on what trees need to grow. Students then will work individually on certain leaf types to understand how their shape influences their function; – this may involve collecting leaves, but also cutting out the shape of leaves or tracing the outline that the leaf shadow makes. Finally, students will see how the ways plants supply water to leaves interact with the capacity to capture light to influence leaf size. At [...]

Putting Down Roots: The Evolution of Plants from Water to Land

Putting Down Roots: The Evolution of Plants from Water to Land

Plants play a major role in the lives of other living things, especially humans.  But it’s worth taking a look at how plants as we know them came to be, and where they came from. What adaptations allowed the first plants to survive on land?  How are the crops that make their way to our dinner tables different from their aquatic ancestors?  In this lesson students will learn about the different adaptations that led to mosses, ferns, gymnosperms, and angiosperms.  They will also have the opportunity to work hands-on with plant/algae samples to identify some of these adaptations and see where the samples fit along the evolutionary timeline. At the conclusion of the lesson, students will be able to: Identify the four main groups of terrestrial plants and list their evolutionary order Describe the key adaptations that distinguish terrestrial plant [...]

Spring 2015 Workshop - Wednesday April 15th

Spring 2015 Workshop – Wednesday April 15th

The KBS K-12 partnership cordially invites you to our spring 2015 workshop, themed Inferring Function from Form. This will be the last workshop will a full set of GK-12 Fellow presentations (though neverfear, we will have many more workshops) so expect it to be grand! The workshop will be held on Wednesday, April 15. As usual, the schedule will run from 8 AM to 4 PM. Below you’ll find our daily agenda well as details on our plenary sessions and concurrent sessions. Check back often for updates. Please rsvp to Sarah at bodbyl@msu.edu if you plan to attend. We look forward to seeing you! Agenda (PDF) 8:00am – Welcome and Introductions 8:30-9:30am – Plenary: Dr. Ryan Bebej, Calvin College. Walking with whales: the origin and evolution of cetaceans. 9:45-11am –  Session 1: Fellow-led and special guest sessions 11:15am-12:30PM – Session 2: Teacher-led sessions 12:30-1:30PM [...]

Thornapple-Kellogg teacher recognized in book by former student

Thornapple-Kellogg teacher recognized in book by former student

K-12 Partnership teacher Jamie Bowman is named in a new book by a former student, who made a strong impression during her early education. The full article is below, taken from the Thornapple Kellogg Schools webpage (http://www.tkschools.org/apps/news/show_news.jsp?REC_ID=454025&id=0): Amy Purdy, an actress, writer, inspirational speaker, and famed “Dancing with the Stars” competitor, wowed millions with her will and determination to compete even after having both legs amputated. In her new book, Purdy remembers one special teacher – Jamie Bowman – a TKMS teacher for 15 years. Thornapple Kellogg Middle School teacher Jamie Bowman has a new favorite book containing a very personal message. Bowman’s former student Amy Purdy acknowledges a special connection with her one-time elementary teacher in her new book “On My Own Two Feet: From losing my legs to learning the dance of life.” Bowman was in her first [...]

K-12 Partnership in the News - March edition

K-12 Partnership in the News – March edition

It’s been a busy spring for the partnership! Here are some of the most recent updates. Click on the photos for more information. 1. GK-12 project featured on the BEACON blog. 2. K-12 partnership and GK-12 teacher educator Liz Ratashak featured in the February MEA voice. 3. Former GK-12 Fellow Liz Schultheis receives the Tracy A. Hammer Graduate Student Award for Professional Development. Congratulations to Liz!   4. Fellows present the KBS GK-12 story at the MSU CREATE for STEM conference.