Hello from Ithaca, New York! This week, this lucky girl is participating in a week-long free summer professional development workshop offered by Cornell University – Institute for Biology Teachers (CIBT). I learned about the summer workshop through one of the NSTA science list-serves earlier this year. I applied, and now here I am… one of the twenty middle school science teachers from New York, New Jersey, and West Virginia attending Cornell’s 2015 Summer Institute for Middle School Science Teachers.
“Ithaca is Gorges” is a popular tee-shirt slogan here. Without a doubt, the campus and location in the middle of summer is absolutely breathtaking. Right now, as I type this, I think about what a blessing it is to listen to water flowing from Cascadilla Gorge right outside my dorm window.
However, as much as I’m enjoying the scenery, this post is about the amazing biology labs and activities I’ve been learning about for the past two days. The workshop highlights recent research in biology and promote interactions between teachers and scientists. They introduced many citizen science programs, which we teachers were able to further explore through our own participation.
On Day 1 of #CIBT2015, we visited the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. I learned about their citizen science programs such as eBird, Project FeederWatch, NestWatch, and YardMap. I got to bring out my inner-birder by participating in a bird count and submit a checklist. Yay!
Aside from learning about citizen science programs, there was also a lot of focus on exploring and evaluating middle-level biology labs that foster more student inquiry. The slug lab was an example of one of the open-inquiry labs we explored on the first day.
Here’s a picture of “Slugger”! He seemed to enjoy the yellow bell pepper more than the leafy greens we provided in our sample. Hmm, I wonder if the water content of the food samples might influence the food preferences of the slug…
Did you know that the nine-spotted ladybug is the official state insect of New York? I learned this fact from John Losey on Day 2 of #CIBT2015 when he introduced the Lost LadyBug Project to us. I had no idea that the native ladybugs were disappearing. In fact, our native ladybug has been placed by the NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation on the List of Special Concern. Here we are, combing through the herb and vegetable gardens looking for the lost lady bugs!
Here’s another fun fact I learned: Did you know that the deeper the color red, the more endangered that ladybug is? How fascinating! Is this little ladybug one of our nine-spotted friends, or is it the invasive Asian ladybug? Hmm…