Biology Students and Professors Present Workshops at Statewide Conference

Posted on 12/7/2016 2:23:28 PM

Erin Janetski, Holly Travis, Victoria Stone, and Anne Simmons presented workshops at the Pennsylvania Science Teachers Association Annual Conference on December 1, 2016, at the Penn State Conference Center Hotel in State College, Pennsylvania.

The conference focused on sharing new approaches and strategies for teaching and learning in all science disciplines and across all levels, from pre-K to college. Workshop participants included teachers, administrators, and environmental center educators from Pennsylvania and surrounding regions.

Janetski reported the results of a survey given to a high school environmental science class to evaluate the impact of participation in a water quality citizen science activity on students’ sense of engagement and competence in science. Developed by Janetski as her graduate thesis project, the Western Pennsylvania Water Watch program was funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and will be expanded to include several additional classes from a local high school this spring.

Travis discussed the impact of participation in citizen science activities with two different undergraduate student populations: early childhood/special education majors, and biology non-majors taking an ecology-based liberal studies science course. Both groups participated in online citizen science activities sponsored by organizations such as Zooniverse, Scientific American, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Positive results were noted in varying degrees with all groups, offering insight into the development of more engaged citizens with a wide variety of interests and background. This research will be expanded to integrate K-12 public school students and university students majoring in both science and non-science fields in hands-on water quality sampling that will benefit the community and inform water management practices in the region.

Stone and Simmons presented survey research and interactive lessons for elementary and high school students. The survey research was conducted in the Disease and Vector Ecology Laboratory with Tom Simmons and presented at the 2016 IUP Undergraduate Scholars Forum and the Women in Mathematics, Science, and Technology Program.

The interactive lessons focused on tick behavior, life cycles, and identification as well as personal protective behaviors, including how to dress for a walk in the woods, safe tick removal, and Lyme disease symptoms.

At the statewide conference, Stone reinforced the need to educate students about tick ecology and personal protective behaviors because 25 percent of the confirmed cases of Lyme disease across the United States in 2015 were in Pennsylvania. In addition, Stone’s survey research at IUP indicated that many college-age students do not use personal protective behaviors to reduce their Lyme disease risk.

Erin Janetski and Holly Travis at the Penn Stater Conference Center in State College at the 2016 PSTA Conference

Erin Janetski and Holly Travis at the Penn Stater Conference Center in State College at the 2016 PSTA Conference

Victoria Stone demonstrated how to teach the complex two-year life cycle of the blacklegged tick to elementary school students.

Victoria Stone demonstrated how to teach the complex two-year life cycle of the blacklegged tick to elementary school students.

Department of Biology