REEFS 2013

REEFS is a reoccurring event held during ESA’s Annual Meeting. It is organized jointly by ESA’s Office of Education and Diversity and the Education Section.

The following resources were presented during the REEFS Session at the 2013 ESA Annual Meeting.

Learning Activities

The session handout is available for download (.pdf)

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Descriptions

Mutations are random: The Lederberg experiment

Author: Jennifer Doherty, Michigan State University, dohertyjh@gmail.com
Activity type: classroom activity
Audience level: undergraduate students
Abstract: In this classroom activity students are led through the Lederberg’s replica plating experiment as an in-lecture guided inquiry. Students work in informal groups to design an experiment to test the hypothesis that antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria surviving an application of antibiotics had the resistance before their exposure to the antibiotics, not as a result of the exposure. This is a key piece of evidence for random mutation. They are then given the Lederberg’s experimental design and asked to predict results that would support or reject the hypothesis. The Lederberg’s results are then presented for students analyze and discuss.
Extent this learning activity is developed: Newly developed, implemented once or twice in a classroom, lecture or laboratory

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Testing the Intermediate Disturbance Hypothesis with Periphyton

Author: Donna Vogler, SUNY Oneonta, donna.vogler@oneonta.edu
Activity type: laboratory activity
Audience level: undergraduate students
Abstract: Students incubate sets of glass slides in pondwater. One set is left undisturbed, one is scraped lightly each week, one scraped agressively twice weekly and a fourth is wiped clean each week. Students observe algal colonization after 4-6 weeks in a Whipple grid at 100X taking abundance data by the number of quadrats that species appears in. Early trials show that slides with intermediate levels of disturbance produce a greater diveristy index (H’ or 1/D) than the undisturbed slides and the regularly cleaned slides. Some trouble shooting is still needed with the set up, and I would like feedback on the assignment and data sheets.
Extent this learning activity is developed: Newly developed, implemented once or twice in a classroom, lecture or laboratory

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Investigating the effects of invasive plant species on ecosystems by conducting authentic scientific research at an urban teaching institution

Author: Pamela Geddes, Northeastern Illinois University, p-geddes@neiu.edu
Activity type: field course
Audience level: undergraduate students
Abstract: Students conduct their own multi-week research project by going to a field site to collect soil and leaf litter samples to investigate how forest ecosystems are affected by a highly problematic invasive plant species in the Midwest (Rhamnus cathartica or common buckthorn). Students are grouped into teams of 4 and they perform numerous activities that include: review of scientific literature, coming up with research questions, collection of their research samples, sample analysis in the lab (for variables such as pH, soil organic matter, nitrate, ammonium, and phosphate in the soil, soil microbial function, and leaf litter mass and diversity), presentation of group results to the whole class as an oral presentation, and writing an individual research paper in scientific format that undergoes peer review.
Extent this learning activity is developed: Highly developed, implemented multiple times in a classroom, lecture or laboratory

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SUPER: Skills for Undergraduate Participation in Ecological Research

Author: Claudia Boot, Colorado State University, claudia.boot@colostate.edu
Activity type: classroom activity
Audience level: undergraduate students
Abstract: Semester long program of workshops designed to train undergraduates on how to participate in laboratory research.
Extent this learning activity is developed: Newly developed, implemented once or twice in a classroom, lecture or laboratory

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Flip-cams & iPhones make presentations smarter: Encouraging better oral communication skills through reflective practice

Author: Romi Burks, Southwestern University, burksr@southwestern.edu
Activity type: classroom activity
Audience level: undergraduate students
Abstract: In the last two years, I have been part of a collaborative pedagogical experiment with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation based at the American Museum of Natural History to bolster 21st century process skills in the area of conservation biology. In particular, I have focused my efforts on increasing student confidence and skills in the area of oral communication. I taught eight sections of Biodiversity (a first-year introductory course) in which students gave two, individual 5-minute oral presentations. The first presentation dealt with a specific species of concern (i.e. endangered, threatened, naturalized, exotic invasive) and the second presentation focused on a critical habitat. During Fall 2011, I simply had students give two presentations with some feedback provided on the first. During Fall 2012, the project added more reflective practice. With flip-cams, I recorded the first presentation by each student and gave each student an individual DVD to watch. As an option for enrichment credit (but not a course requirement), each student had the option to watch his/her performance with a critical eye and a focus on the established rubric. Although students improved their performance between the first and second presentation in both scenarios, the reflective practice resulted in better overall presentations. It took a lot of instructor effort to “officially” record the presentations and distribute them in the context of our study. In future iterations, I would require students to engage in this type of reflective practice but would figure out a way that the students could informally record and watch their own performances. Overall, increased effort of my part to emphasize oral communication skills resulted in clear individual student gains.
Extent this learning activity is developed:Newly developed, implemented once or twice in a classroom, lecture or laboratory

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Return to the REEFS main page.