Thursday, May 15, 2014

Can we do this better?

This is a picture of a biology class from Washington High School in Chicago. It was posted on twitter by one of the students in the class. I was able to talk with them via Skype in early April while we were on an island in Florida conducting research with our wild study populations of lizards.

Our research group has been talking with classrooms live from the from the field via Skype for the last 4 years. These Skype sessions have given k-12 students a chance to see a side of science that they might not otherwise see and have been a great way for us to share our work with an audience outside of other scientists.

However, we think that this avenue of communication is just beginning to be seen as a go to option for teachers looking to connect their classroom to the wide world of science. We would like to know how to do this so it has the biggest learning impact for students. What can/should be done in classrooms prior to a chat with a scientist? How can we get students to develop the best possible questions during the conversation? What kind of follow up conversations with students can take place? How can teachers incorporate this tool into their most important curricular goals?

Are you a teacher with opinions about how we can do this better? We would love to hear from you. 

I am thrilled to be hosting a group of five teachers tomorrow at the Jefferson Scholars Foundation and the University of Virginia to discuss collaboration between teachers, scientists and k-12 students. This type of online communication will be among the topics that we discuss. The six of us will be together for a full day to think about how teachers and scientists can work together to have the greatest possible impact on students. I am looking forward to seeing what we can create together. I'll be sure to post highlights of our day in the coming week.

Monday, March 31, 2014

We are busy in the field.

We arrived here at our Florida research site on Saturday and have been extremely busy to collect the data that will help us answer questions about evolution. We spend months thinking about exactly what data we will need to collect to answer our questions about evolution. Since our time in the field is limited, we work nearly round the clock when we are here to capture, measure and mark thousands of lizards from our study islands.

We are excited for the chance to tell students about our work and share some photos and video of our work. Here is a look at what we have been up to so far.

The morning commute is one of the perks of being a field biologist

The brown anole lizard is the model animal that we use to answer questions about evolution

Lizards aren't the only animals that can climb trees.

                                                                    I see you up there.

Not a bad day of work. 

We enjoy your questions so send them our way!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Ever wonder how scientists learn about evolution with living animals? Follow us and we'll show you.

Evolution is not just a historical science. Through careful observation and clever experiments evolutionary biologists are able to learn a lot about how evolution works using animals that exist on our planet right now. That is exactly the kind of work that we do and we want to show it to you.

Photo by Vince Musi

We use  small islands in Florida with populations of lizards as living laboratories to estimate the strength of natural selection as it occurs in each generation. We take careful measurements of thousands of lizards on the islands to estimate how physical traits, such as body, size influence a lizard's chances of surviving long enough to pass its genes to the next generation. We have been keeping tabs on natural selection in this way since we began working on The Lizard Project islands in 2011.

Since we started this work we have always been excited to talk about it with students. When we are in the field, we post to this blog with photos and videos to give students a window into the work of an evolutionary biologist. In some posts we will talk science, but sometimes we just want to show you some of the cool animals, plants and places that we come across while working on the islands.  We are heading out to the field again and from March 29th to April 5th you can follow our work each day right here on Wide World Science. We love to answer questions and will answer every student question that gets posted here or on Twitter @mr_reedy. We are also looking forward to having classrooms join us on the islands via Skype to have a look around the islands and talk science.

We would love to have you follow us in the field. Talk to you soon!