This past Thursday (February 20) was the SciRen 2014 Workshop and it was a great success! I was able to have some great conversations with high school and elementary teachers about using frogs as learning tools in their classrooms. As a huge supporter of education and teachers in particular, I was very excited to be able to be involved in SciRen.
My elementary lesson plan involves the use of frogs as model organisms to teach the life cycle. In addition to providing a plethora of activities and worksheets, I suggested that teachers collect tadpoles/egg masses from local wetlands and raise the tadpoles in the classroom as a fun and interesting demonstration of the life cycle. An important reminder for all the teachers that decide to pursue this plan, don't forget to wear your rubber boots when collecting (it can get very mucky!) and don't forget to feed your tadpoles! (I usually feed tadpoles thawed boiled spinach from the freezer aisle.) Let me know how it goes!
My high school lesson plan is a simple classroom experiment involving the development rates of tadpoles under salt stress. Tadpoles, when confronted with osmotic/salt stress, can actively pump out the excess ions to maintain their internal water balance. However, because they are diverting the energy for growth into actively pumping out the ions, they are likely to grow slower and reach metamorphosis at a later time than non-stressed tadpoles. The experiment uses tadpoles collected from local wetlands. These are divided into two tanks - the stressful treatment (salty water) and the unstressful treatment (freshwater). (**important- while tadpoles can endure some salt stress, they will die in water with too much salt. I recommend using 1/2 tsp. of salt per gallon of water**). Then students can observe and record which treatment takes longer to reach metamorphosis and write a lab report on their findings. Hopefully this is a fun and easy experiment for students and I am very interested to hear about the outcome from any teachers that pursue this idea!
The real highlight of the night was to observe how committed these teachers are to their students! After a long day of teaching, they drove (some from a distance!) to spend the evening with us to build upon their teaching efforts and classroom curricula - as if they aren't already swamped! I have admired the work that teachers do for some time (I've seen all the behind-the-scenes work as my mother is a hard-working first grade teacher) and I am so appreciative and energized by the work and commitment shown by NC teachers! All said, the night was a triumph!!