A new school year begins and our Fellows are back in the classrooms! As always, we enjoy bragging on our Fellows, Partner-teachers, and districts, so here are a couple of recent GK-12 community happenings that we’re proud to be a part of. Olivet’s Salmon in the Classroom (SIC) project Students in Russ Stolberg’s 8th grade classroom (with Fellow Jake Nalley) raised salmon fry from the DNR Wolf Lake hatchery during the 2012-2013 school year. In May, the class traveled to the MSU main campus to release the 4-inch fry into the Red Cedar River. The Olivet salmon project received first page honors on the Olivet Community Schools Newsletter, The Oakum, which you can read here. GK-12 Fellow Developed Lesson Plans go to Vegas! Our Lessons Page and Interactive Lessons Table now contains full access to 90 Fellow and Partner-Teacher developed lessons for [...]
It was the last week of June and KBS was a hive of activity. The annual K-12 Summer Institute lasted just 3 days this year but was action packed. Sessions were conducted by the GK-12 fellows, both new and returning, and by the MSP research associates. Since the institute ran for just three days, we had a plenary session everyday! Our first plenary speaker was Dr. Carolyn Malmstrom from the Dept. of Plant Biology at MSU. She spoke on the topic ‘It’s a small small world: Plant viruses and ecology’. She was a perfect fit for us since one of the questions she focuses on is ‘How do we preserve biodiversity and ecosystem services in working landscapes’? Sounds a bit familiar, right? Dr. Malmstrom started her talk by describing viruses as a ‘space capsule with a protein coat containing genomic [...]
Former GK-12 fellow Kali Bird continues to train teachers and bring exciting science to K-12 classrooms as an Education Program Specialist with the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York. During the 2010-2011 academic year, she partnered with Sandy Breightenbach of Plainwell High School, gaining experience and improving her ability to communicate science, while invigorating the classroom with inquiry-based lessons based on the latest scientific research. She says that “the experience of working with kids and teachers through the GK-12 program helped me to better understand the interests and needs of both; while the practice of presenting the process and insights of science to varied audiences improved my ability to communicate these effectively, meaningfully, and confidently.” Since January, she has been developing and updating data-driven curriculum focused on the Hudson River and its watershed. Leaders of the Cary [...]
This upcoming June 24-26 (Mon.-Weds.), KBS will again host the K-12 Partnership Summer Institute! We have a superb group of Partner-Teachers hailing from 11 of our SW Michigan partner districts, 5 brand new Fellows, and 4 returning Fellows. All have been hard at work, both developing new, exciting lessons to introduce at the institute and learning about each others’ roles as scientists and educators. This year, the institue features three invited plenary speakers from Michigan State University: Drs. Carolyn Malmstrom, Catherine Lindell, and Maren Friesen, as well as a special seminar session on the Next Generation Science Standards with Nancy Karre (BCAMSC), Cheryl Hach (KAMSC), and Sara Syswerda (MSU, KBS). The full schedule, including abstracts of all concurrent sessions, can be found here. If you plan to attend (and we hope you will!) please RSVP to Sara S. at email@example.com .
Congratulations to former GK-12 Fellows Liz Schultheis and Nick Ballew for the following awards granted this spring: Liz received the 2012-2013 Fields Teaching Award from the MSU Department of Plant Biology. The award is given once annually to a Plant Biology graduate student, “recognizing originality in teaching methods and a recipient’s ability to generate enthusiasm about learning and to influence student attitudes and interests”. Liz has honed her teaching and science communication skills over the last three years of service as a GK-12 Fellow. She is also beginning a second year of partnering with the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action. She has created and presented many lesson plans for K-12 students, hosted workshops for K-12 teachers, and attended local and national education conferences (GK-12 annual meeting, MSTA, NABT, ESA Life Discovery). She helped co-create Data Nuggets and is [...]
The above Call for Proposals is sponsored by Project GREEEN. Originally known as the Plant Initiative, Project GREEEN is a collaborative effort by plant-based commodities and businesses in cooperation with AgBioResearch (formerly the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station), MSU Extension, and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) to advance Michigan’s economy through its plant-based agriculture. Its mission is to develop research and educational programs, ensure and improve food safety and protect and preserve the quality of the environment. If you are curious where you can find Michigan native plants for your backyard or schoolyard, see: Michigan Retail Sources of Native plants (.docx)
The inaugural MSU Science Festival kicked off this weekend in East Lansing and Fellow Anne Royer was featured as a presenter in this State News article. Anne ran a hands-on demonstration of “Darwin Builds Better Cars” all day Saturday and Sunday, in the Biomedical and Physical Sciences building on campus. Participants learned about evolutionary processes by first building Lego cars and testing their models on short tracks, then used online software (BoxCar2D) to optimize 2D car design on various types of terrain. Fellows Anne, Liz Schultheis, and Sara Garnett recently presented “Darwin Builds Better Cars” at the K-12 Partnership Workshop in March.
After days of work in the field and lab collecting data on their BeSt biofuel plots, four classes at Lawton Community Schools – Ms. Angle’s 8th-graders and Ms. Visich’s Environmental Science class – finally got to enjoy the fruits of their labor. As any scientist knows, no fruit is more satisfying than juicy, crunchable data. We started this adventure by looking at what kinds of data we had. This included the planting, fertilization, and harvesting treatments as well as the data we collected, from plant and insect biodiversity to soil characteristics. Each student made his or her own hypothesis about why a pair of variables might be related. Does fertilization increase insect abundance? Does moisture increase plant biomass production? Only one way to find out… The students plotted their data by hand, then ventured into the computer lab to produce [...]
GK-12 fellows Tyler Bassett and Jake Nalley have been honing their public presentation skills all year in middle and high school classrooms. On March 29, they put those skills to good use by participating in the Plant Science Graduate Student Research Symposium that was hosted on Michigan State’s East Lansing campus. Both presented on their individual research topics in front of a small crowd and judges. Tyler and Jake both research the many benefits that can come from diversity, a topic that should be familiar to students and teachers that have studied the BEST Plots. Tyler focused on how diversity may be a crucial factor in resisting invasive species in restored prairies. Jake spoke about how growing multiple species of algae together results in higher levels of biomass that can be converted into biodiesel fuel. Tyler received third place in the [...]
Ever wonder why when you dive in a lake, there is a sudden drop in temperature? Russ Stolberg’s 8th grade Earth Science students have been discussing why we observe this phenomenon in our lakes and oceans. It all has to do with density! Cold water has a higher density than warmer water, and as solar radiation continually warms the surface of our lakes it makes this separation even more pronounced. I [Jake] had the pleasure working with the students on an exciting lab simulating how waters can become layered, or stratified, and then simulate how this stratification can be broken down through natural processes. Groups of students each got to work with their own pond (a clear plastic tub), which was heated by the sun (a heat lamp) and received warm wind via a blow dryer. We started with “Winter” [...]
On March 8th, Dave Williams (GK-12 partner teacher and RET) and Liz Schultheis (GK-12 fellow) presented at the Michigan Science Teachers Association Conference (MSTA). Dave developed this lesson while working as an RET in Jen Lau’s lab, where graduate student Liz studies the role of enemies in plant invasions. The lesson covers invasive species in Michigan (like purple loosestrife and garlic mustard), and guides students through collecting data to test the Enemy Release Hypothesis – which posits that invasive species escape from natural enemies in their invasive range, contributing to their success. In this lesson, students develop predictions, design experimental sampling methods, collect data, and create graphs for data interpretation. Participants were also introduced to Data Nuggets – activities where students can practice making claims based on scientific data. Lesson and other materials available via these links: Presentation Slides [...]
Whether you’re new to inquiry learning in your classroom, or you’re looking for new projects to spice up your curriculum, this workshop is for you! Come enjoy an intensive week of field and lab exploration, working with scientists and educators. Participants will experience five days of cutting edge research, while creating lessons that will work in the classroom and with the Next Generation Science Standards. Lessons cover a diverse set of topics, including ecological field research, mathematical modeling, evolution, and computer simulations. Not only will participants come away with new research ideas, but more importantly, an increased comfort with the process of real science – including the unexpected and exciting new results that come from scientific inquiry! Room and board at Kellogg Biological Station paid by the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action at Michigan State University. [...]
State News Article (in case the above link doesn’t work)
The KBS GK-12 Bioenergy Sustainability Project is now accepting applications for Teacher Partners for 2013-14. Teacher Partners are K-12 teachers from 15 local school districts forming the KBS K-12 Partnership for Science Literacy. Teachers are paired with GK-12 graduate student fellows in a year-long relationship.Teacher Partners provide fellows with K-12 classroom and teaching experience. Fellows work with teacher partners to improve curricula and student learning, in part by utilizing established schoolyard science research plots (BEST plots) in K-12 Partner districts. These partnerships offer graduate students an opportunity to bring leading-edge research practices and findings to K-12 learning settings. Graduate Student Fellows are meant to serve as role models to K-12 students and help stimulate their interest in STEM disciplines. Please see the application form for more details on the project and teacher partner responsibilities and benefits. To apply, please submit (1) this completed application [...]
Weeds, Seeds, and Dispersal! That was our theme for the December 5th KBS K-12 Partnership workshop. Our plenary speaker for the day was Dr. Joe Dauer, MSU research associate in Plant Biology. We learned that when he is not wearing his ‘weed ecologist’ hat, Dr. Dauer makes ‘the best pancakes’! We did not get any pancakes but we did get to hear his talk: ‘Going the Distance: Investigating dispersal across scales’. Dr. Dauer began with a discussion on investigative ecology. How and what do you investigate about weeds? One question would be – why do we see a patchy distribution of weeds and not an even distribution? Another could be – what is the role of humans in facilitating the movement of weeds or controlling it? During the talk we considered two methods of dispersal: wind and soil. When considering [...]
Congratulations to Fellow Elizabeth Schultheis who has been selected as a recipient of a Dr. Marvin Hensley Endowed Fellowship in Science. Way to go, Liz!
The KBS GK-12 Bioenergy Sustainability Project is accepting applications for graduate student fellowships for 2013-14. This graduate training project is funded by grant from the NSF Division of Graduate Education. Fellowships are intended for students who have completed at least their first year of graduate coursework. The NSF GK-12 program is meant to advance the professional development of STEM graduate students while they continue to make good progress on their dissertation research. NSF stipulates that fellows will spend a maximum of 15 hours per week directly involved in GK-12 project activities, with approximately 10 of these hours devoted to activities in K-12 partner districts or at KBS. KBS activities will include a one-day orientation in May, an intensive summer science institute in late June, two one-day school year workshops and weekly Friday fellows meetings associated with a course focused on the professional development of [...]
by Michael Kuczynski, October 2012 This fall, Mrs. High’s highschool students at Delton Kellogg had the opportunity to get outside and do a little research on the bioenergy plots. Different classes focused on collecting different sets of data, all building towards an answer to the question “Can we grow grass or flowers for our fuel and save the butterflies too?” In the morning students were clipping samples of biomass from the plots to investigate how we can maximize biofuel production while using the least amount of land. Everything went very smoothly and the most challenging part for the students seemed to be keeping warm while working. In the afternoon we set up pitfall traps and sticky traps to catch invertebrates in the plots. We quickly realized that the rocks in the soil was making it a bit difficult to dig [...]
October 2012, by Cara Krieg The students of Harper Creek have been learning about biodiversity! Mrs. Joostberns’ 4th graders ventured out one chilly morning to uncover the treasures waiting for them in the invertebrate traps that were set out the week before. The students discovered that many fliesand bees stuck to the sticky traps placed above the plants. In contrast, cups buried in the ground caught many worms, ants, and beetles. Because of the heavy rains the weekend before, many of the cups flooded and some of the insects were still alive! A giant grasshopper became the star of the show before I returned it safely to its home in the BEST plots. The students were excited to see invertebrates in all different shapes and sizes. The data collected that morning will be combined with the same measurements already taken at Harper Creek [...]
October 2012, by Anne Royer Marcia Angle’s 8th-graders at Lawton adventured out into the fall weather to explore the plants and animals living in their BESTplots. We started with insect biodiversity. After learning how to randomize the location of our traps, we sacrificed two dice to the prairie gods and left the traps out for a week. Our sacrifice was acceptable, and we were rewarded with an abundance of insects and one rotten smelly mole. Being a good fellow, I threw the mole back in the plot it came from, and we took some dead-mole-smelling insects back into the classroom to identify and count. (Most of the insects just smelled like dead bugs, i.e. roses.) We had a great time discovering what we’d caught. A few days later the same students braved a frosty morning with plant identification booklets in [...]
October 2012, by Jake Nalley The eighth graders in Mr. Stolberg’s Earth Science class at OlivetMiddle School wereabletospend some well-deserved time outside as they were introducedto the BEST plots. To gain a better understanding of how the surrounding lands can influence the plots the students ran the small-scale landscape protocol. Students wereseparated into two groups, Team Landscape and Team Elevation. Team Landscape identified how the land was being used for the fifty meters surrounding each side of the plots. Team Elevation got to learn how touse a water level, and also determine the slope of theland surrounding the plots. Through the hard work of all the 8th graders, we were able to determine that the land surrounding the plot is primarily unmanaged, naturally occurring field, except for the parkinglot that is twenty meters to the south of the plots. Also, both [...]
Sept 2012, by Tomomi Suwa The sixth graders from the Gull Lake Middle School took advantage of this beautiful fall weather and spent some time outdoors at the BEST plots. To learn about differences in invertebrate diversity in different habitats, students set up two types of traps (sticky traps and pitfall traps) in the BEST plots, right outside their building. One week later, they collected the traps and tried to identify and count the invertebrates they found. In the sticky traps, they caught many types of flies and wasps and even grasshoppers and ladybugs. In the pitfall traps, they found spiders, beetles, and other types of crawling invertebrate species. Some students were a little scared to watch the dead creatures at first, but most of them got really excited to find so many different kinds of invertebrates in the trap. We [...]
Hi, my name is Sarah Bodbyl Roels. You may remember me from the 2012 Summer Institute, when I gave an invited plenary talk about my doctoral research at the University of Kansas. I have been hired by KBS as the new GK-12 program coordinator and I am currently working alongside Robin Tinghitella as she transitions to her new faculty position at the University of Denver in Colorado. Please congratulate Robin on her new job and thank her for many years of hard work developing the KBS GK-12 program. About me: I am a native Michigander, growing up in Cutlerville, just south of Grand Rapids. I majored in biology at Calvin College and then moved to Kansas to pursue a doctorate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. I am a self-professed biology nerd and I love science! I am broadly interested in [...]
Our KBS K-12 Partnership Fall Workshops have been scheduled! Mark your calendars for October 3rd and December 5th. Our October 3rd workshop will focus on the theme of “Communicating Climate Change” and we’re pleased to have KBS Faculty member Steve Hamilton as our guest plenary speaker. We’re looking forward to it! Email Robin and Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. We’re looking forward to seeing you!
By Guest Blogger and K-12 Partnership Volunteer Extraordinaire Joelyn DeLima A magical week of making movies. That is the first thing that comes to mind when I describe the days from June 25th to 29th at KBS. The KBS K-12 Partnership Summer Science Institute was more than just sitting around learning science in input-driven sessions and discussions. This year the teachers, led by the returning fellows (Michael, Tomomi and Tyler), worked on preparing movies based on the three different sets of protocols that are conducted on our BEST Plots Research Network. The aim of this exercise was to prepare 60-75 second videos introducing the protocols in a manner that would spark a student’s interest. They could also be used as an overview for anyone interested in performing these protocols. The entire endeavor, which took place on Monday afternoon and all [...]
Tyler just finished up the first of his two years as a GK-12 Fellow. This year, he’s been working in Gull Lake Middle School with two teachers, Kim Clancy and Jennifer Boyle. Read up on some of his work, including work on our BEST plots research network, on page 7 of the district’s newsletter (below). This is the second time Tyler made the news in the Gull Lake Communicator- they must really like him over there!
Fellow Tomomi Suwa and Sandy Breitenbach’s AP Biology Students recently travelled to Grand Valley State University to present their 2011-2012 research projects. Here’s the scoop from Tomomi… April 25th was a big science day for 14 students from Plainwell high school. They each presented a poster on their independent project at the Michigan High School Math and Science Symposium at Grand Valley State University. Among 40 other presenters from Southwest Michigan schools, the students from Plainwell represented their school very well. These students are from Mrs. Sandy Breiteinbach’s AP Biology class and since last September, I’ve been working closely with them to go through the entire process of science including picking interesting questions, designing an experiment and analyzing the data. They each came up with creative projects such as the effects of spotted knapweed on native plant species, differences in [...]
By Guest Blogger and KBS GK-12 Friend Joelyn de Lima April 11, 2012 was a day loaded with fun at KBS. Our GK-12 Fellows outdid themselves developing interesting and informative lessons and games that addressed the topic for the day “Evolution and the Biodiversity of Life” from different viewpoints. Topics ranged from the evolution of beak shape to mimicry and invasiveness. The day began with Tom Getty giving a brief update we call “The State of the BEST Plots”. Most of our plots are in a good shape, but a few had to be visited by the Round-Up fairy! The speaker of the day, Jenny Boughman, took over from Tom and spoke on the topic “The Evolution of Complex Adaptations: The Eyes Have It!”. She talked about how evolution works by taking existing structures and changing them bit-by-bit. Since eyes [...]
Report from Tom: Nick, Marcia, Alycia, Tomomi, Robin and Liz presented and represented our GK-12 Project at the 2012 Annual Meeting for GK-12 Project Teams, held at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 16-18. I cheered them on, took pictures and took great pride in they way they represented all of us. Nick’s roundtable discussions about fostering quantitative reasoning skills were well-attended and well-received. Our BEST Team presentation on Building Long-Term Research Projects and Collaborations was a big hit, even though it was at the worst possible time (early Sunday morning) and location (a room hidden behind the bar). Participants were very enthusiastic about our presentation and activities and full of questions and suggestions. It was especially gratifying to learn that other projects are studying our website and adopting some of our innovations. There were 103 projects represented at [...]
We’re looking for a few good teachers! In 2012-2013 our GK-12 project will support 9 Graduate Student Fellows who will spend approximately 10 hours per week in one of our KBS K-12 Partnership school districts. Fellow-Teacher partnerships offer graduate students an opportunity to bring leading-edge research practices and findings to K-12 learning settings. Graduate Student Fellows are meant to serve as role models to K-12 students and help stimulate their interest in STEM disciplines. We are currently accepting applications for the role of “Partner Teacher”. Partner Teachers are paired with a Graduate Student Fellow and are responsible for managing project and fellow activities in their district for a given semester or year. The general expectations are that GK-12 Partner Teachers be active participants in the KBS K-12 Partnership, including workshops and institutes, and in research and educational activities associated with [...]
The KBS GK-12 Bioenergy Sustainability Project is accepting applications for graduate student fellowships for 2012-13. This graduate training project is funded by grant from the NSF Division of Graduate Education. The NSF GK-12 program is meant to advance the professional development of STEM graduate students while they continue to make good progress on their dissertation research. NSF stipulates that fellows will spend a maximum of 15 hours per week directly involved in GK-12 project activities, with approximately 10 of these hours devoted to activities in K-12 partner districts or at KBS. KBS activities will include a one-day orientation in May, an intensive summer science institute in late June, four one-day school year workshops and Friday fellows meetings associated with a course focused on the professional development of fellows. Stipend support is generous and includes benefits and tuition. The eight NSF [...]