Our Class: Science 6B
Essential Question: "How do plants and animals tell time?"
"Scientists have long been interested in understanding internal 'clocks.' How does a plant know when to flower? How does a bear know when to hibernate and then wake up? What tells birds it is time to migrate? What tells us (humans) when to wake up or go to sleep? This summer we will explore how life tells time -- from day to day as well as from season to season -- through laboratory investigations and fieldwork on campus at Brown."
- Brown University Education Department Website
Along with Geoffrey Griffiths, Sarah Votolato and Rocio Caballero Gill, I taught 23 rising 9th- through 12th-graders in a four-week course that we designed around this essential question. Over 17 two-hour class sessions, we challenged our students to explore various aspects of this question, coming to understand how plants and animals use a variety of environmental cues to tell time, how time governs behavior and processes in organisms, how biological processes occur over varying scales of time, and how humans are also governed by time but can impact the time-telling processes in other organisms as well. Our class maintained organized lab journals, followed the development of tadpoles to create flipbooks, observed and dissected plants, read articles and wrote essays integrating their knowledge of time-telling processes and life cycles, and designed experiments to test the effects of substances on Daphnia, research that they then presented through a poster session.