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Moss in the Classroom: A Tiny but Mighty Tool for Teaching Biology

    Authors: Erin E. Shortlidge1,*, James R. Hashimoto2
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    Affiliations: 1: Arizona State University, School of Life Sciences, Tempe, AZ 85281; 2: da Vinci Arts Middle School, Portland, OR, 97233
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Supplemental materials available at http://jmbe.asm.org
    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: 451 E Tyler Mall, Tempe AZ 85281. Phone: 480-965-0803. Fax: 480-965-6899. E-mail: erin.shortlidge@asu.edu.
    • ©2015 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2015 vol. 16 no. 2 289-291. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v16i2.947
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    Abstract:

    Here we present a mechanism to infuse ecology into the classroom using a broadly adaptable system. We developed a novel moss-based project that introduces research-based experiences for middle school students, and can be modified for integration into K-16 classrooms. The project is ecologically relevant, facilliating opportunities for students to experience intimate interactions with ecosystem subtleties by asking their own questions. We describe and suggest how students can develop, build, test, and assess microcosm experiments of their own design, learning the process of science by “doing science.” Details on project execution, representative examples of distinctive research-question-based projects are presented. We aim for biology educators to adopt, replicate, modify, and formally assess this relatively simple, low-cost moss-based project across classroom levels. The project provides a chance for students to experience the complexity of a dynamic ecosystem via a research project of their own design as they practice basic tenets of scientific discovery.Editor's Note:The ASM advocates that students must successfully demonstrate the ability to explain and practice safe laboratory techniques. For more information, read the laboratory safety section of the ASM Curriculum Recommendations: Introductory Course in Microbiology and the Guidelines for Biosafety in Teaching Laboratories, available at www.asm.org. The Editors of JMBE recommend that adopters of the protocols included in this article follow a minimum of Biosafety Level 1 practices. Adopters who wish to culture microbes from the moss as an extension of this protocol should follow Biosafety Level 2 practices.

References & Citations

1. American Association for the Advancement of Science2011Vision and change in undergraduate biology education: a call to action: a summary of recommendations made at a national conference organized by the American Association for the Advancement of ScienceJuly 15–17, 2009Washington, DC
2. Bascom-Slack CA, Arnold AE, Strobel SA2012Student-directed discovery of the plant microbiome and its productsScience33848548610.1126/science.121522723112324 http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1215227
3. Bloom BS, Krathwohl DR1956Taxonomy of educational objectives: the classification of educational goalsHandbook I: Cognitive domainD. McKayNew York, NY
4. Britner SL, Pajares F2006Sources of science self-efficacy beliefs of middle school studentsJ Res Sci Teach4348549910.1002/tea.20131 http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/tea.20131
5. Brownell SE, et al2014How students think about experimental design: novel conceptions revealed by in-class activitiesBioScience6412513710.1093/biosci/bit016 http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/biosci/bit016
6. Crowe A, Dirks C, Wenderoth MP2008Biology in bloom: implementing Bloom’s taxonomy to enhance student learning in biologyCBE Life Sci Educ736838110.1187/cbe.08-05-0024190474242592046 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.08-05-0024
7. Deane T, Nomme K, Jeffery E, Pollock C, Birol G2014Development of the Biological Experimental Design Concept Inventory (BEDCI)CBE Life Sci Educ13540551251852364152214
8. Eilam B2012System thinking and feeding relations: learning with a live ecosystem modelInstructional Science4021323910.1007/s11251-011-9175-4 http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11251-011-9175-4
9. Glime JM2014The fauna: a place to call homeCh 1 Glime JMBryophyte Ecology, Volume 2, Bryological InteractionEbook sponsored by Michigan Technological University and the International Association of BryologistsLast updated 29 April 2014 and available at <www.bryoecol.mtu.edu>
10. Hanauer DI, Dolan EL2014The project ownership survey: measuring differences in scientific inquiry experiencesCBE Life Sci Educ13149158245915133940455
11. Hoskins SG, Stevens LM, Nehm RH2007Selective use of the primary literature transforms the classroom into a virtual laboratoryGenetics1761381138910.1534/genetics.107.071183174834261931557 http://dx.doi.org/10.1534/genetics.107.071183
12. Lindo Z, Gonzalez A2010The bryosphere: an integral and influential component of the Earth’s biosphereEcosystems1361262710.1007/s10021-010-9336-3 http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10021-010-9336-3
13. Moore JC, Tripp BB, Simpson RT, Coleman DT2000Springtails in the classroom – Collembola as model organisms for inquiry-based laboratoriesAm Biol Teach62512519
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/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v16i2.947
2015-12-01
2017-09-19

Abstract:

Here we present a mechanism to infuse ecology into the classroom using a broadly adaptable system. We developed a novel moss-based project that introduces research-based experiences for middle school students, and can be modified for integration into K-16 classrooms. The project is ecologically relevant, facilliating opportunities for students to experience intimate interactions with ecosystem subtleties by asking their own questions. We describe and suggest how students can develop, build, test, and assess microcosm experiments of their own design, learning the process of science by “doing science.” Details on project execution, representative examples of distinctive research-question-based projects are presented. We aim for biology educators to adopt, replicate, modify, and formally assess this relatively simple, low-cost moss-based project across classroom levels. The project provides a chance for students to experience the complexity of a dynamic ecosystem via a research project of their own design as they practice basic tenets of scientific discovery.Editor's Note:The ASM advocates that students must successfully demonstrate the ability to explain and practice safe laboratory techniques. For more information, read the laboratory safety section of the ASM Curriculum Recommendations: Introductory Course in Microbiology and the Guidelines for Biosafety in Teaching Laboratories, available at www.asm.org. The Editors of JMBE recommend that adopters of the protocols included in this article follow a minimum of Biosafety Level 1 practices. Adopters who wish to culture microbes from the moss as an extension of this protocol should follow Biosafety Level 2 practices.

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FIGURE 1

Mosscosms in action: a) mosscosms, b) student collecting data on mosscosms c) subsampling grid technique for counting springtails, d) students observe springtails collected from funnel extractions, e) graphing springtail population growth data, f) student poster:

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2015 vol. 16 no. 2 289-291. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v16i2.947
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