Johnson County Science Cafe

Johnson County Science Cafe’

Arboriculture 101

Speakers: Jeff Sifrit, ISA Certified Arborist for K.C. Arborist Tree Care
Date: November 5, 2013

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.

Join Jeff for an evening discussing all things about trees: selection, planting, care, pruning and anything else you want to talk about. With Pine Wilt Disease taking its toll and the Emerald Tree Borer now in Kansas City, not to mention the lingering effects of drought, there should be plenty to discuss.

Jeff is K.C. Arborist’s Operation’s Manager and consulting arborist with over 18 years of experience in the green industry. As an ISA Certified Arborist MW-4842A, Jeff specializes in consulting with both residential and commercial clients and identifying their individual tree care needs. He is also a Missouri Certified Pesticide Applicator (#c16353) and was amongst the first Certified Tree Care Safety Professional (#415) in the state of Kansas in 2009. Jeff’s passion has made him grow exponentially in his knowledge of trees, plants, shrubs, diseases and everything arboriculture related. He loves sharing his knowledge and educating the community to help Kansas City stay at its’ healthiest level.

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Organismal Behavior in NGSS

I have been wrestling with how to tackle the new behavior standards in NGSS since this past summer, and the time has finally hit where we jumped in.

I interpret this standard to cover organism behavior:

HS-LS1-3. Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence that feedback mechanisms maintain homeostasis.

In the clarification statement it specifically references stomata function, so this is where we went.  I found this year that the old AP Transpiration lab is an excellent fit in a general biology classroom.  I am using the following timeline:

  1. Day One – Design experiments, identify independent variables, setup experiment.

    Stomata Image

    Quick Dry Nail Polish Impression of Pansy Stomata

  2. Weekend
  3. Day Two – Collect final mass, calculate percent change, take stomata impressions.
  4. Day Three – Graph data, lab analysis, complete reports.
  5. Day Four (Block Day) – Research stomata function and identify the underlying feedback that led to the observed data in the report, produce writing product explaining the connection.

The data is fairly accessible, the math is manageable but gives good practice, they get some microscope practice early in the year, and the writing product will make your common core advocates happy.  I wasn’t super excited about this lab going in, but at $1.50 per six pack of flowers I could run the whole experiment in my large classes very inexpensively using small pansies I bought from Lowes.  I have linked to my materials and would recommend giving it a try if you are looking for a good standards-aligned behavior lab.


Water Management Lab Handout

Behavior Research Assignment Handout

Procedure Video:

Day 40–Has it been this long?

As I was looking over my past posts about growing these fastplants I was a little taken aback at how much time has passed from my last post back on Day 27.   It is now Day 40 and as you can see from the images, the seed pods filled nicely and the plants are now drying out.  I guess the long hiatus from posting reflects on how much attention I’ve given the plants over the last couple of weeks–pretty much no attention.

Selected Plants

I’ll harvest seed next week or so when the plants are dried out completely and yellow.  The drying process would be further along but the plants were growing so well that I left them on water a little longer than I normally would.  Could be that my fertilizer mix was a little too rich which might account for the lush growth.  I also suspect that I could have pollinated another day or two to increase seed yield.  I last watered the plants last Wed, on Day 32.  I travelled to upstate New York over the weekend so the timing was good.  All the plant reservoirs were dry by the time I came back on Monday.   One more thing to note.  I trimmed my seed pods and flowers on the plants that were selected for hairiness, forcing more of the plant energy into fewer pods and seeds.  Note how large the seed pods are on the selected plants compared to the remaining plants that I did not give the same level of attention.  There appears to be a big difference between the two populations.

Remaining Plants–Grown with no trimming of excess flowers or seed pods


Science Cafe Wichita

Topic: Conservation and the Species Dating Game

Speaker: Schaneé Anderson – Curator of Education at Sedgwick County Zoo

Date: Monday October 14

Time: 7:30 PM

Location: The Donut Whole (1720 E. Douglas)

In the world of endangered species preservation every breeding counts. However, not every animal should breed. Sedgwick County Zoo actively prevents more endangered species from breeding than it breeds. Making sure that the offspring is the right genetic mix, confirming that there are quality homes for those animals, and breeding to maintain captive genetic viability for 100 years is all part of the “dating game.” Learn more about the Species Survival Plan as well as the conservation work that Sedgwick County Zoo assists with around the world. You may be shocked to discover what animal is the most endangered at Sedgwick County Zoo!

Schaneé is a native of OmahaNebraska. She started her zoo career as a teen volunteer at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo over 30 years ago. In 1992 she migrated south to Kansas as curator of education at Sunset Zoo, ManhattanKansas and traveled further south in 2003 to become the curator of education at your Sedgwick County Zoo.

She has her bachelor’s degree in environmental science from the University of Nebraska and a master’s in elementary education and curriculum instruction from KansasStateUniversity. She has served on the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s Conservation Education Committee and Honors and Awards, is past-president of the Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education, is a certified interpretive trainer with the National Association for Interpretation, and is an adjunct professor for Friends University. In 2012 she was honored by KACEE with the John Strickler Award, the State’s top environmental education award.

She has been married to Charles for eighteen years and loves to spend time with their two sons who think they own the Zoo, two dogs, and a cat. There is not much time for hobbies.

Johnson County Science Cafe

Johnson County Science Cafe’

NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory – Curiosity Rover Overview

Speakers: Aaron Sengstacken, Aerospace Engineer
Date: October 8, 2013

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.

The Curiosity Rover has been successfully operating on the surface of Mars since landing on August 5th, 2012.  A little over half way through it’s prime mission, the surface mission has been both successful and surprising.  Tonight’s talk intends to be a conversation.  The first half will provide a quick overview of the Curiosity Rover mission, from assembly to surface operation.  The remaining time will be allocated for questions about the mission, and more generally an open discussion on the future of robotic interplanetary exploration.

Aaron Sengstacken is an Aerospace Engineer who was responsible for the integration, testing, and operation of the color science cameras on NASA’s Curiosity Rover.  He received his BS in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from the University of Missouri – Columbia, and a Masters Degree in Aerospace Engineering from Purdue University.  Aaron worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for the past 5 years but recently relocated back to Kansas City after accepting a position at Garmin.  Aaron lives in Fairway, KS with his wife Allison and two dogs, Buckley and June.  

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