Perspectives on Trees

A few weeks ago, my fall semester field biology students and I began our studies of forest ecology.  Luckily before the majority of our local trees demonstrated their deciduous nature, we were able to travel into the field and collect quite a diversity of leaves for identificaiton.  More recently, we have turned our attention to dendrochronology methods and using the point-quarter-method for determing tree density, dominance, and frequency. 

Normally, I wouldn’t have considered sharing such information but during the past week, two NPR broadcasts have inspired me to do so.  More specifically, the inspriation came from Robert Kruwich‘s “Krulwich on Science” radio segments.  Links to the specific radio segment follow, with a few related class resources that I have used while teaching about dendrochronology and forest density.

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Great Resource!

Martin Shields’ Biology Inquiries has simple yet thought-provoking activities, labs, and seeds of discussion to stimulate inquiries in the classroom. I always consult this book first to see what fun I can have introducing new topics and elaborating on old ones. Click on the picture to go to Amazon for more information.


The HHMI Bulletin

An easy way to Keep Current with Bioscience Research

I imagine that many of you are familiar with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the quality educational resources that they develop to help us “teach ahead of the textbook”.  These resouces range from their Biointeractive virtual labs and animations to their annual Holiday Lecture series.

But if you haven’t taken the time to navigate around their website, you may have overlooked another great resource they offer, their quarterly publication the HHMI Bulletin.  Upon receiving my second issue in the mail this week, I figured that I should help spread the news of this informative publication.

The HHMI Bulletin serves the purpose of conveying information about the current research of HHMI investigators through brief news segments and longer articles.  Each issue, being around 50 pages in length, lends itself to a leisurely weekend read.  The lead article for the November issue, pictured in the image above, covers recent research into chromosomal movements during meiosis. 

Each article is written with a conversational tone, easily accessible to interested students, and is supplemented with appealing graphics and images.  Besides the informative science, one of the greatest assets of the bulletin its ability to convey that science is truly human endeavor. Students who read these articles will come away more knowledgeable and equally apt to imagine themselves filling the shoes of the interesting and eclectic investigators profiled.

To view the bulletin, you can subscribe to receive a free print copy, or read the current issue or back issues online. The online version provides you the opportunity to save and print pdf copies of selected articles that are most interesting and appropriate in enhancing the units that you teach. 

Insect Challenge

My high school zoology students were attempting to get a “great” picture of some of the field bindweed by our high, and they accidently found this insect on the flower. Can anyone name this insect?

Challenge: Have You Seen This Wasp?

Back on 28 September I found this insect occupied on a log as evening approached here in northeast Kansas.  After my students found they could stump me with fairly basic questions, I told them that someday I would be back with more information on it.  My enthusiasm far exceeds my working knowledge on most insects, so I would love to know both its identity and any natural history.