Johnson County Science Cafe

A Conversation about Biology

Speaker: Harry McDonald, retired high school biology teacher

Date: February 7, 2012

Time: 6:30 pm

Location: Coaches Bar and Grill, 9089 W. 135th Street, one block west of 135th and Antioch, south side of 135th St.
Please note, this is a new location. Still Coaches, but they have moved

Harry will lead a discussion about what is happening in biology. He will supply a list of topics and background material to stimulate discussion, but any topic in biology is fair game. Expect a “lifely” evening. You know Harry, he is willing to discuss anything and has an opinion on everything. Bring your thinking cap and lots of questions.

Harry is a retired biology teacher with 32 years experience in the classroom and 8 years experience as a science education consultant. He is currently serving on the Kansas committee to review the Next Generation Science Standards, is KCFS President, and on the board of the National Association of Biology Teachers.

For more information:

Summer opportunity Upstate New York–Neurobiology

Professional development opportunity for New York State high school biology (Living Environment) teachers

Support provided for travel, lodging, meals, and stipend!


Neurobiology for Your Biology Classroom


Participants in this conference will experience neurobiology lessons that:

  • ·       Engage students in active learning through hands-on activities (case studies, “wet labs” and manipulative modeling).
  • ·       Integrate neuroscience concepts into high school curriculum topics beyond human physiology.  For example, genetics, evolution, development, and ecology.
  • ·       Employ a variety of teaching strategies that meet the learning needs of all students, not simply the highest achieving students.
  • ·       Increase students’ awareness of careers in science, healthcare and other fields that involve understanding of neurobiology concepts.


This conference is sponsored by the University of Rochester’s Life Sciences Learning Center through a grant from the National Institutes of Health.


Who:      New York State Biology (Living Environment) Teachers

When:     9:00 am Tuesday, August 7 through 1:00 pm Thursday, August 9

Where:   The Inn on the Lake, Canandaigua, NY 



Support for conference participants will include:

  • ·       Hotel for 3 nights (Check-in Monday August 6 and check-out Thursday August 9)
  • ·       Meals*
  • ·       Reimbursement for travel expenses (up to $250)
  • ·       Stipend ($300)
  • ·       Professional development certificate


* Breakfasts and lunches will be at the hotel.  Dinner will be “on your own” – at the hotel or at one of the many nearby restaurants.  We will reimburse up to $25 for each dinner meal (alcohol not reimbursed).


Expectations for conference participants:

  • ·       Attend the three-day conference.  Professional development certificate and $300 stipend provided
  • ·       Pilot test two neurobiology “core” activities and at least two neurobiology “extension” activities in your classroom during the 2012-2013 school year.  (All classroom materials and an additional stipend of $100 will be provided for pilot testing.)
  • ·       Present a workshop for teachers from schools in your local area during the 2013-2014 school year.  (All workshop materials and an additional stipend of $200 will be provided for leading a workshop.)



To apply to participate in this neurobiology conference, please complete the attached application.  Application deadline is May 1, 2012.  Email application to Amy Crosby

Drosophila Rambling

Another means of collecting female virgin fruit flies

I don’t know about you, but I have been interested in genetics ever since I understood the implications of Alfred Sturtevant’s all nighter when he discovered that the analysis of offspring phenotypes from particular controlled crosses could give one information on the relative location of genes a chromosome. 

With that said, I have always hoped to replicate those crosses in class, without the luxury of ordering the different generations from Carolina Biological, etc…  Over the years, I have been frustrated from this realization by three problems which were1) anesthetizing flies, 2) collecting virgin female flies, and 3) having the time to conduct such a series of observations.

The second of these problems was generally the greatest challenge.  I am aware that there are heat shock strains that I could get from our Olathe colleagues among others (thanks!), and that it was customary to clear vials and use timing since eclosion to collect for this purpose.  But this year I only see my students once every 24 hours, so the later method wouldn’t work, and I hadn’t talked to Jeff Whitters about getting a new culture of heat shock flies either.  So, it was off to google where I ran into a reference to a third method for collecting the females needed.

Here is the specific information that I had never known:

Being able to recognize virgin females removes the necessity of emptying culture vials on a timely basis and allows students to collect their own without the necessity of coming to class at odd times of the day. Note that virgin females are much larger than older females and do not have the dark coloration of mature females. In addition, in the early hours after eclosure, there will be visible a dark greenish spot (the meconium, the remains of their last meal before pupating) on the underside of the abdomen.

I thought, “Could this be true?”.  After having this method confirmed by Dr. Susan Abmyer at the Stowers institute, I had my students looking for meconium spots on the ventral abdomen of flies.  I haven’t found any images on the web, so here are a few examples of what we found:

So, for those that don’t have access to heat shock flies, and don’t have time to clear vials two times a day, I hope this method proves helpful to you.  I’ll let you know how our crosses come out.





Johnson County Science Cafe

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George Price and the Evolution of Altruism

Speaker: Paul Decelles – Johnson County Community College

Date: January 10, 2012

Time: 6:30 pm

Location: Coaches Bar and Grill, 9089 W. 135th Street, one block west of 135th and Antioch, south side of 135th St.
Please note, this is a new location. Still Coaches, but they have moved

Ever since Darwin, biologists have puzzled over how evolution could favor the spread of “altruistic” behavior. The development of our understanding of this topic is itself a fascinating story. Orem Harman’s 2010 book, the Price of Altruism introduces us to one of the least known and yet important contributors to our understanding of the biology of altruism, George Price. Paul Decelles will use this book as a starting point to introduce some of the main controversies about the evolution of altruistic behavior and its implication for our species.

Paul Decelles is a biology professor at Johnson County Community College. His area of expertise is in population genetics and entomology, especially social insects. He did his undergraduate work at Cornell University, MS at the University of Georgia and PhD at the University of Kansas. He has been involved in Kansas science education issues especially related to the teaching of evolution and has served on the board of Kansas Citizen’s for Science.

For more information:

Another summer opportunity for teachers

If I were still teaching I’d probably apply for this….I really love the upper Mississippi and have long been fascinated by the archeology of the area.  By way of Randy Dix and Bonnie Jancik…..

Exploring the Past: Archaeology in the Upper Mississippi River Valley

Walking beside thousand-year-old burial mounds, flaking raw stone into tools, learning how potsherds tell us about human behavior, and understanding how humans adapt to complex, ever-changing environments­our 2012 NEH Summer Institute features all this and more.

The Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center at the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse will offer a three-week NEH Summer Institute on July 9–27, 2012.  This dynamic learning experience for K-12 teachers will explore how Native Americans and Euro-Americans have adapted to the Upper Mississippi River Valley over the past 13,500 years, and how archaeology leads to an understanding of how human cultures change and adapt through time.

The Institute will feature a one-day excavation experience, field trips to archaeological sites, hands-on laboratory and workshop activities, demonstrations, and classroom activities. Individual projects will help participants tailor the content to their own teaching areas. NEH Summer Scholars receive a $2,700 stipend to help offset their expenses.

Application and other information on the Institute will be available online at   The deadline for applications is March 1, 2012.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Bonnie L. Jancik
Director of Public Education
Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center
at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse
1725 State Street
La Crosse, WI 54601
Phone: 608-785-6473
Fax: 608-785-6474

Visit the MVAC World Wide Web site at:

Visit the UW-L Archaeology Studies Program at: