Student Research

Projectile Motion (Physics & Applied Math):   4 th and 5 th grade math fellows, Martha Liendo and Elizabeth Harris are developing a series of lessons for each nine-week period to illustrate projectile motion.   The first lesson in the Fall of 2011, conveyed the importance of degree of projection to the total distance traveled by a projectile with the use of ping pong ball launchers that project ping pong balls at 3 different angles. Students were required to record distances traveled by angle of projection, compute an average for each angle, and discuss relevance of their findings. This lesson culminated in a competition in which students used their knowledge of angles of projection to attempt to launch small pumpkins using a water balloon launcher the farthest distance.

Bacteria Buffet:   Physical Education fellow, Megan Pogemiller, incorporated her prior research with the worm, C. elegans, into the development of a lesson and game for her third-fifth grade PE classes.   The students were split into teams and had to work together to navigate throughout the gym and collect food for the worm. The teams had three rounds to improve upon their ability to get the most nutritious food. Each team graphed their progress and the group discussed the trends in the line graphs that were created. PE Coach, Nancy McDonald, presented the fellows’ lesson at a PE Education Conference in January 2012.   Coach McDonald’s presentation focused on incorporating STEM in gym activities.

Growing Bacteria:
Fourth grade science fellow, Meg Carr, incorporated her research area of microbiology into a 2-week unit on the basics of bacteria.   The unit was set up as a science experiment by asking the students “Where in the classroom do most bacteria grow?”   The first week, they decided on a hypothesis (students chose 2 different locations where they thought the most bacteria could be found in the classroom) and method (the students swabbed two locations and spread it across a Petri dish).   The second week, the students observed the bacteria growth under a microscope and made an accurate sketch of the growth.   They analyzed the results by ranking the bacteria growth.   Then, they made a final statement about the question.

Minerals, Rocks, Sediments, and Soil:
Nathan Noll presented lessons on minerals, rocks, sediments, and soil to first graders.   One hands-on example simulated the effects of a river tumbling sediments along by filling a rock tumbler with angular gravel-sized pieces of several types of rock.   The students observed how the edges start to break off and make the gravel rounder, how the smaller sediment sizes start to form pebbles, sand, silt, and clay.

Intro to Bacteria:
Eric Lynch drew on his undergraduate research with bacteria to present an introduction to bacteria to second graders.   He discussed methods of observing organisms that are too small to be seen by the naked eye.   He demonstrated how we cannot easily see a single grain of sand, but we can clearly see an entire jar.   This was related to the idea that if we grow bacteria on agar plates, we will be able to see their colonies.   Children swabbed their mouths and toes and applied the swabs to agar plates.   They made predictions on what they would see the next week.   The concept of a control was also introduced by running a clean swab along the agar plate.   The children observed and discussed the results the following week.

Paleontology and Dinosaurs:
 PreK fellow, Leigha King, introduced her career choice as a paleontologist and what that job entails.   The students watched a “Dinosaur Train” video and did a worksheet where they had to match dinosaurs to the appropriately sized train car.

Science Journals:
Nathan Noll, first grade fellow, introduced his students to science journals by showing them his own science journal and a journal article that he had published.   The parts of a journal (table of contents, graphs, pictures, maps, etc) were discussed as well as how scientists need to be good in all subjects (math, writing, art, etc.).   Editing your writing with the goal of publishing your research was discussed.   Once published, people all around the world can read what you learned from your research.

Graph Theory and Cryptology in a 5th Grade Classroom. 
This 2011 Summer Institute presentation by Elizabeth Harris, graduate fellow in mathematics, highlights the college level topics brought into the 5th grade classroom.  Click here for presentation

Combinatoric and Cryptographic Topics in a 4th Grade Classroom. 
This 2011 Summer Institute presentation given by Martha Liendo, graduate fellow in mathematics, highlights the college level topics brought into the 4th grade classroom.
Click here for presentation

Bone Crushing Behavior:   Using several casts of skulls of both extinct and living carnivores, the 4 th and 5 th grade fellows, Elizabeth Schmitt and Paula Edwards, helped the students learn how to interpret an animal’s dietary adaptation based on cranial morphology. Students specifically learned how to determine if a carnivore had the ability to crush bone by examining parts of the skull. The lessons demonstrating the comparative morphology of skulls taught students about the
sagittal crest and how that affects the bite force of an animal and that the features of the skull can tell us major characteristics of animals that are extinct.  

Click this link for accompanying presentation information

Click this link for presentation

Social Spiders:
  Second grade fellow, Jennifer Price, used her research on populations of Anelosimus studiosus , a spider found from Argentina to the New England states, to talk to students about biodiversity, adaptation, life cycle, benefits of community, biochemicals, and yes, even drug awareness.   The second grade students were exposed to academic language (Biologist, Habitat, Adaptation, Behavior); investigation of complex concepts;   and using authentic scientific methodology observing spiders in observation chambers and keeping   science journals. Each classroom was given their own “pet spider,” which enabled the students to observe several behavioral aspects of the spiders.

Click this link for presentation to North Side second grade students

Click this link for presentation to North Side students during Red Ribbon Week

Click this link for how Jennifer’s research was brought into the classroom

Fireman to the Rescue!
This is a flash game that demonstrates the use of locating-dominating sets in simple graphs. In this game, students progress through levels of increasing difficulty by applying logic skills within a set of simple rules. The game illustrates the application of research in mathematics to an everyday situation, while improving each student's critical thinking skills. 

Fossil presentation. Grant Boardman, graduate fellow in paleontology, has given presentations to groups of classes with examples of casts and real fossils found at the Gray Fossil Site, and housed in the Natural History Museum.