Flood Brook Students Explore Careers in Science
Flood Brook’s seventh grade has just completed a unit studying the five kingdoms of life. As part of their study, students collected water samples from a wide variety of sources located in their school district and created mini-ponds that were stored in the classroom through the winter months. Samples were gathered from every possible source, from backyard ponds to the West River. After gathering the samples, students consolidated the latitude and longitude of their samples using Google Earth and practiced their GIS (Geospatial Information Systems) skills by plotting all of the sample locations on one map and using the Heading tool to plot the distance and direction of their sample from the school. Using in-class microscopes supplemented by web-based data bases and reference books, students identified the microorganisms found in their mini-ponds. To summarize their findings, the students made slide presentations and created a mock seminar, with each student assuming a persona matching their hopes for their future in life science. The class chose to be medical doctors from the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Professors of Environmental Studies from the University of Vermont, and (get your checkbooks out parents!), graduate students from Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. Ms. Blane’s sixth grade attended the seminar, and the students were able to see the mini-ponds first hand and anticipate what they will do next year.
The 7th grade students benefitted greatly from this experience. They learned the lab-style manners and cooperation needed to share laboratory equipment, patience while conducting sometimes frustrating microscopic searches, as well as the thrill of discovering unknown organisms in their samples. Microscope studies force students to concentrate, be persistent, and appreciate scientific principles overlooked in daily life.