Research-and careers therein-rarely follows a linear path. Instead, it is often a long and winding road. These are stories about science and my personal experiences on this road.
My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.
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I grew up in the rural Southeastern U.S., a working class place of dairy farms, chicken coops, tobacco fields, and textile mills. A place where you're likely to find generations of one family living on the same hill, possibly even working the same jobs. A place where a kid couldn't get away with much of anything (good or bad) without it getting back to the family.
Even with that last one, it was a great place to grow up. That was in no small part due to the caliber of education I received in the public school system there. I had some wonderful teachers, especially in my science classes. Although I wouldn't seriously entertain the idea for a few years, my chemistry teacher (a middle-aged white guy) was the first to plant the idea that I could pursue and excel in a career in chemistry. Other teachers encouraged my scientific curiosity and sparked my interest in biology and anatomy. Much of my understanding of and enthusiasm for science was precipitated by hands-on learning--pH testing, synthesis, dissections. That's one reason I'm supporting DonorsChoose and, in particular, Mrs. T's "Oh! Rats!" classroom project. Mrs. T was kind enough to tell me more about her project and to allow me to share it with you! Here's what she says:
I wish I had lots of money because I would have so much fun pitching in to my favorite projects around the country through DonorsChoose and other places. Unfortunately though, I'm just a poor science teacher. :) I wanted to tell you some more about our project "Oh! Rats!"
We will spend 2 days observing and dissecting rats in our classroom. I've only gotten to do this with students once before, and they were absolutely amazed by it. I planned it toward the end of the school year and I kind of held it up like a "carrot" to get my students to work hard at their labwork and other assignments up until then. After they proved their skills at dissecting mushrooms, flowers, and cow eyeballs, we all felt they were ready to take on the RAT! We now have many budding "surgeons." I say that jokingly, but I'm also serious. I know they will remember it forever and some of the students really did come away thinking that they would like to be doctors or other types of scientists.
We were able to compare and contrast the organ systems of the rat, a fellow mammal, to our own body systems. They were amazed at how similar they were! I made sure there was 1 pregnant rat in each class and let the lucky kids "discover" it on their own. It created a huge amount of excitement in the classroom when they delivered the ???-up-lets! (I think one of the rats had around 10 babies in it.) We discussed homologous limbs in rats, humans, and other animals. We learned that the same levels of organization existed in rats and humans - cells, tissues, organs, and organ systems. Before the dissection, we observed adaptations and characteristics of the rats that helped them to escape predators, such as the proportionately large ears, acute sense of hearing, quickness, agility, and their ability to squeeze their bodies through tight spaces. On the other hand, we also studied owls and other raptors to learn how they were adapted to be able to find and catch rats.
We had the controversial conversation about the value of dissection in the classroom. Most students felt that there was MUCH to be learned from the experience and were glad they got to do it. They realized that they needed to be respectful of the "sacrifice" of these living creatures so that they could learn and that they shouldn't take it lightly. I was so proud of the way that they behaved like real scientist.
Needless to say, my students this year have heard all about this dissection experience from my last year students, and they really, really want to be able to do it also. They've been preparing since school started. I simply must find a way to get this done! Thank you so much for your support and interest in our project!
Now doesn't that sound like an awesome experience? The sort of thing that might just change how these kids see science? I think it's fantastic that she has used this project to address so many critical concepts--both scientific and ethical. I want to be a part of making this a reality for her students this year!
There's a bit of urgency for this project: Mrs. T only has 2 weeks to raise $639! I might be relatively new on the blogging block (just over a year compared to the many years of others), but I also know that this is something the community can--and I hope, will--achieve.
Of course, my competitve side would love for you to donate through my page--and is offering bribes. But several other LS bloggers are also supporting this project with their own methods of persuasion. Plus if you make a donation through any LabSpaces giving page, Disgruntled Julie--the grad student blogger with legendary baking skillz--might be sending you cookies! And if the carrots aren't enough, support this project because you fear Tideliar going all Chuck Norris on you.
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