Innovated Teaching Methods, Demonstrations, etc.

I have used a lot of original laboratory demonstrations and activities over the years due to budgetary deficits or other issues. Below is a method for discussing journal articles that I developed and later published. Additionally, I provide the publication of a simple demonstration used to explain the effects of environmental variables on transpiration. The latter doesn't really use transpiration directly, but it addresses the concept in a simple way that students really latch on too. I have also had students boil red cabbage in water to remove carotenoids, then alcohol to remove chlorophyll, leaving the cabbage bright white at the end. This really hammered home that chlorophyll is soluble in fat, hence why it appears in the membranes and other pigments are water soluble, which is why they do not appear in the membranes, but occur in matrix or cytoplasm. I have also had students compare heat loss by hatchling button quail and chicks to demonstrate surface to volume ratio effects in heat conservation. The students used behavioral cues to track and of course the smaller button quail chicks moved through this progression faster than the chicks. This was a very popular laboratory activity! Early in my career, we were discussing nutrition and nutritional supplements. The night before, the television show South Park aired the Episode in which Cartman is taking massive amounts of beefcake body building supplement. I jokingly told the class we should go buy some weight gainer 5000 and feed it to mealworms and see if we can make them scream beefcake! I turned around and looked at the students and some of their eyes were the size of pie plates. I then asked, would you guys like to do that? It was a unanimous yes. So, I tossed a poorly performing lab activity from the schedule, then had the students design their own experiments with various body building supplements. It was not only one of the most fun and inspiring labs for the students, it was also a heck of a lot of fun. Best of all, they really learned a lot about nutritional supplements.

Discussing Journal Articles

One day I was coming to class, only about 30 min before, getting ready to have students discuss research papers. I knew that many would not have read any of their assignments, or they would be reading them while other students were presenting, and that they would ask questions just to get credit for doing so. I had gone through this exercise myself as a student. It always amounted to what should be a great exposure for students but actually was a pretty big failure time and again. I happened to have copies of a handful of Victor Hutchison's papers on critical thermal maxima in my hand, when I had an epiphany. I ran back to my office, printed off a pile of different papers, all by Hutchison. Then, handed each student a different paper. It was a massive success. A ton of people have adopted this approach. Its a lot of work the first time you do it. But, much more rewarding. I was invited to write it up for the Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America, and later, it caught the attention of a well-known science journalist who published her news article about it with both Science and Nature. Below is a link to the paper and to the news article.

A method for encouraging classroom discussion of scientific papers

(2010) The Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America 91 (3), 363-366
*Coverage: 2010 (16 July). Parrots, People and Pedagogies: A look at Teaching and Education. Maniraptora: Tastes Like Chicken. A Nature Network Blog. By Irene Pepperberg. (News article was published by both Science and Nature.

Simple Demonstration

This is a very simple laboratory demonstration that can be used as a group activity or a demonstration. It doesn't REALLY demonstrate transpiration. But, it does demonstrate effectively how wind and heat impact water balance in the plant and students understand very well how transpiration works after doing it.

A classroom demonstration of temperature & wind effects on plant transpiration

(2001) The American Biology Teacher 63 (6), 420-421

Original outreach programs

Sustainable Ecosystems

(1999) Mid-America Aquacenter Publications, Hazelwood, Missouri.
Explore & More: Science discovery in agriculture I

(1998) Mid-America Aquacenter Publications, Hazelwood, Missouri

Explore & More: Science discovery in agriculture II

(1998) Mid-America Aquacenter Publications, Hazelwood, Missouri

Explore & More: Science discovery in fisheries I.

(1998) Mid-America Aquacenter Publications, Hazelwood, Missouri

Inquiry-based learning programs for educators and students, 1998 - 1999
(1998) Mid-America Aquacenter Publications

Explore & More: Science Discovery in Fisheries II.

(1998) Mid-America Aquacenter Publications