Department of Biology Outreaching to the Community
June 15, 2023
Within the last two weeks, elementary and middle schools involved with the UK STEM Camp run out of the College of Education sent approximately 200 students to engage in activities with the Department of Biology. The STEM Camp (https://education.uky.edu/stem/camp/) has been running since 2010, and Biology professor Dr. Robin Cooper and his students have been involved with it for a number of years.
This year allowed students to develop hands-on experience with laboratory investigation around the theme of bioelectricity. Participants were able to record electrical activity from plants, their own bodies, and electrical circuits to understand how electricity is created, as well as to develop an understanding of how electricity can be conducted through different materials. They also visited the Don Frazier Science Outreach Center, which showcased different human and animal body parts, and conducted physiological experiments with the focus of health promotion. Instructors and student helpers were staffed from undergraduate majors in biology and entomology, as well as high school students helping with the STEM Camp. UK students Elizabeth R. Elliott, Christine Haddad, and J.J. Bradley, and high school student Chloe Farmer, were leaders in the camp this year. Activities were planned and arranged by Dr. Robin Cooper and Elizabeth R. Elliott. Dr. Becky Krall from the Department of STEM also helped manage the program to keep the material age-appropriate.
JJ Bradley (Entomology major-in the middle) and Christine Haddad (Biology major-purple shirt)
June 29, 2023
"Teaching Science teachers"
This week marked the annual NOYCE workshop, during which science teachers from across the state of Kentucky visit campus for a few days of workshops and educational development. The NOYCE program is an NSF-funded program, with a focus on “Producing STEM Teachers for Urban and Rural Schools in Kentucky”. This program is run out of UK’s College of Education with Dean Margaret Schroeder (Dept. of STEM Education). Dr. Robin Cooper — a professor of Biology serving both as co-investigator on the NSF grant and one of the workshop instructors for the past several years — says, “The fun part of helping out with this program is seeing the connections within our educational system, as we see past undergraduate biology students returning as teachers, continuing to collaborate with other students and instructors by bringing new and educational activities to their classes in counties all across Kentucky.” This year’s workshop welcomed fifteen middle and high school teachers, with specific focus on the theme of bioelectricity in both plants and animals. Participants conducted activities with ionic potentials in solutions, as well as practicing measurements of electrical activity in cricket legs, electromyograms in their own muscles, and electrical potentials in plants during both mechanical movement and injury. They also examined how electrical fields influence the behaviors of larval Drosophila. Of course, this was not possible without the help of a team of volunteers: UK students Elizabeth R. Elliott and J.J. Bradley, and high school students Chloe Farmer and Ainjini Patra. This would also be impossible without the plants provided by Dr. Nicholas McLetchie and the infrastructure of the Department of Biology.
Photos and articles by: Dr. Robin Cooper