PolarTREC Researcher Helps BFA Students Make Connections

Target 2. Leadership in a Student-Centered Learning Environment – FWSU will foster development of teacher & student leaders who provide innovative opportunities for local and global student-centered learning.

Action Step – Ensure students and staff take an active role shaping their learning using rich, authentic questions, problems they identify, & diverse resources.

BFA High School students in Forensics, Botany, and Anatomy & Physiology recently had the privilege of welcoming visiting PolarTREC Researcher Elizabeth Webb (University of Florida) to the school. At the end of the month, High School Science Teacher Tom Lane will be working with Elizabeth on a research experience in the Polar Regions outside of Healy, Alaska. The students enjoyed learning more about the upcoming research project and viewing pictures of Ms. Webb’s research equipment at the 8-mile Lake Research Site in AK.

Researcher Elizabeth Webb (seated) explains microbial respiration to BFA-Botany class in the forest understory at BFA

Researcher Elizabeth Webb (seated) explains microbial respiration to BFA-Botany class in the forest understory at BFA

While at BFA, Elizabeth demonstrated the use of the LI-COR CO2 Gas Analyzer (the main tool used for measuring CO2 levels at the research site) in some innovative ways. In Botany class, students attempted to use the analyzer like Elizabeth uses in her research.  The class devised a collection apparatus (plastic sheet cake cover) and went outside to try measuring soil microbe respiration. Despite the temperatures having been in the +40o’s F the previous days, the air had cooled back down in the single digits with a breeze. Although the ground in the forest understory was frozen hard near the school, students were still able to detect microbial respiration by an increase in CO2 measurement of 6-7 ppm (parts per million)!

BFA-Botany students wait for results using a LI-COR CO2 Gas Analyzer to measure soil microbe respiration by the soccer fields at BFA

BFA-Botany students wait for results using a LI-COR CO2 Gas Analyzer to measure soil microbe respiration by the soccer fields at BFA

In Anatomy and Physiology, students used the LI-COR CO2 Gas Analyzer to measure human respiration at rest and following physical exercise. The class took turns breathing into plastic cups with the LI-COR attached, and developed a graphic representation of the varying amount of CO2 in their exhalation(s) in between at-rest heart rate and after exercise (running up and down the stairs for 3 minutes).

Polar researcher Elizabeth Webb demonstrates how to measure CO2 levels in human exhalation to Mr. Lane’s BFA-Anatomy and Physiology students

Polar researcher Elizabeth Webb demonstrates how to measure CO2 levels in human exhalation to Mr. Lane’s BFA-Anatomy & Physiology students

Researcher Elizabeth Webb and students in BFA-Anatomy and Physiology measure CO2 exhalation

Researcher Elizabeth Webb and students in BFA-Anatomy & Physiology measure CO2 exhalation

Thanks to Elizabeth Webb and PolarTREC, BFA students had a great time making real-life connections with scientific tools and research. It gave the classes a better understanding to prepare for Mr. Lane’s upcoming research expedition, so that they can share in this exciting learning experience! 

2 thoughts on “PolarTREC Researcher Helps BFA Students Make Connections

  1. Pingback: BFA Educator Presents Webinar – Live From the Tundra | Franklin West Supervisory Union

  2. Pingback: BFA Science Teacher Tom Lane Returns from the Tundra | Franklin West Supervisory Union

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