Summer Mini-Courses for Science Educators

Plant Study: In class and in the neighborhood

 
The Rockefeller University, Science Outreach Teaching Laboratory
June 30 - July 1
10am - 5pm

Course Instructors

Michelle Kean, PhD, Plant Geneticist, Laboratory of Plant Molecular Biology
Lisa Neff, Urban Ecologist, Curator of The Tree Seen
Special Lecture on GMOs Presented By Amy Harmon, The New York Times

About This Course

Study the loveliest solar collectors imaginable - plants!  This course offers opportunities for plant study inside and outside the classroom.  For the inside portion we use Arabidopsis thaliana as a convenient fast growing plant to demonstrate growth, natural variation, and adaptability. For the “Teaching with the Trees” segment, we will head out to explore New York City’s urban forest where you will learn to identify common street trees and develop long-term observation projects. We will help you develop plans to provide an easily accessible subject for students to engage in long-term observation. Take your students on an adventure in the urban forest and unlock their imaginations to the wonder of life that we pass by every day.

This class is now at capacity.

Lunch and snacks will be provided.

 


 

Using a BioBlitz to Teach Urban Ecology:

 

A workshop for elementary and middle school educators

 
The Rockefeller University, Science Outreach Teaching Laboratory
July 7
10am - 5pm

Course Instructors

Sarah Kornbluth, PhD Candidate, Rutgers University Newark
Caroline DeVan, PhD Candidate, The New Jersey Institute of Technology
Megan Litwhiler, PhD Candidate, The New Jersey Institute of Technology
Special Lecture on microbial ecology by Peter Groffman, The Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

About This Course

Modern cities often appear largely void of nature. However, when we take a closer look, wondrous biodiversity can be found in even a small patch of green space. The ability of certain organisms to adapt and thrive in the urban environment is a fascinating topic of investigation for minds of all ages, and can be a particularly useful tool to introduce children to the exciting world of scientific research.

In this workshop, elementary and middle school educators will be led through a series of classroom and outdoor activities focused around how to conduct an “urban bioblitz,” a survey with the intent to record all the living organisms in a given area. The bioblitz is a fun and interactive exercise that engages students in the discovery of urban biodiversity and elementary practice in scientific research. Upon completion of this workshop, teachers will (1) have an introductory understanding of the urban ecosystem and why certain organisms do or do not thrive in cities (2) be proficient in ecological sampling methods appropriate for elementary and middle school-age children (3) have in-hand several prepared and modifiable lesson plans (4) possess a variety of resources to continue their investigation into the ecology of cities. We look forward to meeting you for a fun and highly interactive day exploring urban nature on the beautiful Rockefeller University campus grounds!

This class is now at capacity.

Lunch and snacks will be provided.

 


  

DNA Barcoding

 
The Rockefeller University, Science Outreach Teaching Laboratory
July 21 - 22
10am - 5pm

Course Instructors

Melissa Lee, Lab Manager, Harlem DNA Lab
Special Lecture on genomics and big data presented by Joe Pickrell, NYGC

About This Course

Just as the unique pattern of bars in a universal product code (UPC) identifies each consumer product, a short “DNA barcode” (about 600 nucleotides in length) is a unique pattern of DNA sequence that can potentially identify any living thing.  DNA barcodes allow non-experts to objectively identify species – even from small samples, damaged, or processed material.

DNA Barcoding is a simple way to bring open-ended experimentation (inquiry) into formal and informal science settings. Barcoding projects stimulate independent student thinking across different levels of biological organization, linking molecular genetics to ecology and evolution.  DNA barcoding also integrates different methods of scientific investigation – from in vivo observations to in vitro biochemistry to in silica bioinformatics.  The core experimental and sequence analysis work can be mastered in a relatively short time, allowing student teams to reach a satisfying research endpoint within a single summer or academic-year cycle.

Students may participate in a “distributed” project where they add data to a coordinated effort to examine a local ecosystem, museum collection, or conservation issue. Projects may take on a forensic slant by identifying product fraud (such as mislabeled food items) or the biological sources of some common products (such as plants or animals used in traditional medicines).

In this two-day course for high school biology, AP biology, and science research teachers, participants will extract and amplify DNA from tissue samples, and produce DNA barcodes to identify species and explore the relationships between them.  Using DNA Subway, an online bioinformatics tool developed by the DNA Learning Center of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, DNA sequences will be compared across online databases and phylogenetic trees will be constructed.

Upon completion of this training course, teachers will be eligible to mentor student research teams for participation in the Urban Barcode Project through the Harlem DNA Lab (www.urbanbarcodeproject.org). To date, over 400 students have engaged in explorations of the urban environment through this program, which is supported by a freely available biochemical and bioinformatics workflow – including robust protocols and low-cost sequencing.

To register for this free course, please fill out this form. Spaces are limited. Lunch and snacks will be provided.

 


 

The Dynamic Brain

 
The Rockefeller University, Science Outreach Teaching Laboratory
July 28
10am - 5pm

Course Instructors

Beth Waters, PhD, Lead Scientist, SOP Teaching Laboratory
Nicolas Renier, PhD, Neuroscientist, Laboratory of Brain Development and Repair
Special Lecture on video games and the brain presented by Jordan Shapiro, Temple University

About This Course

The brain is the most complex part of the human body. Before it completes development during early adulthood, it undergoes two major developmental phases: The first occurs before birth and the second takes place from childhood through the teen years. But the brain doesn’t stop changing, and throughout life it continues to alter how it receives, processes and sends information to other parts of the brain and body. This plasticity occurs in response to signals from both the internal and external environments. After reviewing brain architecture, this course will address how scientists are studying plasticity, particularly the role of neurotransmitters in synaptic transmission. Lab visits will introduce neurotransmitter networks in rodent and human brains and measurements of neural transmission. Educators will participate in an ongoing research project to measure changes in synaptic plasticity with increasing age. The day will conclude with a lecture and discussion on the role of video games in promoting plasticity during and development and adulthood.

This class is now at capacity.

Lunch and snacks will be provided.