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ROCKS come in cool colors, shapes, textures, and sizes and are found all around you, but how much do you REALLY know about them?
This week we continued with the FOSS curriculum and the unit on microscopy and microscopic life forms.
Brine shrimp life cycle (image courtesy of Bridgerland Audubon Society, Stokes Nature Center, Utah). Shrimp larvae were most easily viewed at 40x (4x objective lens) or 100x (10x objective lens) magnification. The first activity asked students to measure the diameter of the field of view using a 50mm ruler (clipped onto the stage) for each objective lens.
Students will continue with their microscopy unit this week and move on to observing live specimens on Thursday or Friday. This week I invited one of my collaborators, Bob Ackley of Gas Safety Inc., to lead a tour of natural gas leaks in the Curley School neighborhood.
We needed to walk no further than one and a half blocks away from the Curley School before we came upon our first natural gas leak. As many soil microbes and all trees require both oxygen and moisture in soils to survive, natural gas leaks cause serious harm to organisms found in urban environments. Bob shows the class how to use a bang bar and a combustible gas indicator to measure concentrations of oxygen and methane in the soil above a gas leak. Students were able to observe gas leak damage to organisms in their urban environment, first hand. All in all, the tour served to reinforce the lesson that I taught last week and also demonstrated to the students just how pervasive natural gas leaks are in the urban environment that they inhabit. 1.) How is being in the classroom different than you thought it would be, or different than your informal summer experience?
The most challenging aspect of the GK12 experience so far is the discrepancy in classroom experiences amongst the teaching fellows.
The most rewarding aspect of the GK12 experience so far is getting to interact with the students and feel like I am generating excitement about learning and the sciences. Before GK12, I don’t think I realized the depth of the discrepancy in classroom experiences across schools in the United States. 8-bit MicrocontrollersMicrochip continues to expand its innovative 8-bit PIC® microcontrollers with Core Independent Peripherals (CIPs).
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The students did not have time to start the brine shrimp investigation, last week, so we did the exercise this week. Brine shrimp are microscopic aquatice crustaceans that produce dormant eggs, known as cycts.
Once the slides were mounted and brought into focus, the students were very excited to observe their brine shrimp. I found that students had a particularly difficult time learning to adjust the diaphragm to allow the proper amount of light to flow through the ruler and also with reading the ruler properly.
As Hurricane Sandy made landfall in New Jersey on Monday, school was cancelled and a State of Emergency was declared in Massachusetts. Bob has worked in the gas leaks detection and consulting industry for over 25 years and is an expert on identifying and characterizing urban natural gas leaks and the corresponding damages to roads, trees, and soil. Bob explained to the class how utility companies spray paint the road’s surface in order to communicate the location of vital water, communication, electric, and gas lines prior to excavation for servicing (see photo at right).
The leak is under an asphalt patch on the sidewalk where a tree was removed due to damage from natural gas.
Soil microbes that normally help to provide water and nutrients to vegetation, as well as to store carbon below-ground, die and give way to microbes that feed off methane (methanotrophs). Trees above natural gas leaks exhibit canopy damage and significant loss of leaves (see photo, below).
Students are now able to identify the smell of natural gas, describe and identify the effects of natural gas leaks on the organisms in their environment, and understand how and why natural gas leaks effect processes at the organism, ecosystem, and climate change level. The exercise asks students to fill vials with mystery solutions (tap water, salt water, sugar water) and substances (rye grass seed, brine shrimp, yeast, sand) and record their observations of what happens inside the vials over time. Murphy set up the materials for the investigation and then circulated around the room in order to help students assemble their materials properly.
This has been an eye-opening experience and makes me feel quite certain that some form of educational reform in this country is imperative. These devices allow you to perform application functions autonomously in hardware instead of software.
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Characteristic of all MOS structures, these devices are free from thermal runaway and thermally induced secondary breakdown.
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Microchip offers fully-certified LoRa modems for long-range, low-power wireless connectivity. As mentioned, the students prepared food with which to feed the shrimp last Tuesday (baker’s yeast stained with Congo Red).
The students observed dry brine shrimp cysts several weeks ago and were asked if they thought the cysts were alive. For most of the students, this was the first time they began to actually grasp the concept of microscopic life — organisms small enough to fit into a single droplet of water.
Last week, students began their introduction to microscopy by learning about all of the working components of a compound microscope. The class helped prepare food for the shrimp, today (baker’s yeast stained with Congo Red).
Bob also demonstrated how to detect elevated methane concentrations at natural gas leak sites using two instruments commonly employed in leak discovery; a flame ionization unit and a combustible gas indicator (see photos below). Trees suffer due to the loss of associated soil microbes and the reduction of soil oxygen needed for healthy roots. Trees compromised by gas leaks are also susceptible to colonization by types of fungi that break down cellulose. I gave an opening presentation that built on material that I had introduced during my first week at Curley (introduction). I had to remind them that in order to complete the worksheet they would need this information.


The objective is to reinforce the concept of the organism as an independent form of life that exhibits the seven characteristics of life; food, water, response, reproduction, growth, waste, and gas exchange. These students present a unique challenge in that they have seen all of the curriculum before and are prone to distracting the rest of the class. It is therefore a challenge to feel like all of the fellows are making equal strides in fulfilling the GK12 program’s stated goals of improvement in science communication and education. They are supported by MPLAB® Code Configurator, a free graphical programming environment that reduces development time. This amplifier portfolio is ideally suited to low-power, environmentally sensitive and performance-demanding applications in the industrial, automotive, medical, consumer and Internet of Things markets. Other connectivity products include automotive Ethernet PHYs and switches, Ethernet-to-USB bridges and widely adopted USB consumer device connectivity solutions.OS82150The OS82150 integrates a coaxial cable driver and coaxial receiver, extending the usage of coaxial cabling to enable powerful automotive infotainment networks based on MOST150 technology. They are well-suited for MRXX halogen bulb replacement as well as for signage and architectural, general purpose and decorative lighting applications. The Arrays provide amplified signals, supporting voltages up to 300V with output channel count up to 32. Microchip offers a range of products and development tools to provide a complete and reliable LIN design solution.
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Integrated features such as bleed resistors in the ICs further reduce PCB density and overall cost by eliminating an external component. The objectives of the lesson are to observe the feeding patterns of the brine shrimp as well as their movement, general morphology, and characteristics of life. The observations the students made during the investigation today forced them to reevaluate their perceptions from prior weeks regarding dormancy and the size of living organisms. This week, students transitioned into activities that challenged them to use the microscope and tackle concepts such as field of view and focal plane. The students will observe the feeding patterns of the brine shrimp as well as their movement, general morphology, and characteristics of life.
During the lesson, students learned how natural gas leaks release methane (a potent greenhouse gas) into the atmosphere, affect organisms in urban ecosystems (trees, vegetation, soil microorganisms, humans), and limit the storage of carbon in terrestrial systems. As methane is lighter than air, it rises through the soil above the distribution pipe to escape to the atmosphere. As such, photosynthetic capacity for trees is reduced, which further affects a tree’s ability to draw carbon out of the atmosphere and store it in above- and below-ground biomass. Their weekly quiz (administered on Fridays) included material from the lesson and the natural gas leaks tour.
This lesson deals heavily with my area of research, the effects of methane emissions on biogeochemical cycling and urban ecosystems. Students are also asked to practice their observational skills through writing and sketching. It seems especially important to voice and enforce expectations for classroom conduct early on in the school year. The integration of digital functionality, such as decimation filters and a digital down-converter, simplifies system-level design and reduces power usage. MPLAB XC Compiler licenses are also available as Free editions and have the option of a 60-day PRO evaluation trial. Its unified graphical user interface (GUI) helps to integrate software and hardware development tools from Microchip and third-party sources to give you high-performance application development and extensive debugging capabilities. In-circuit debugging offers low cost, minimum additional debug hardware and no expensive sockets or adapters. The linear post-regular provides True DC lighting with no flickering and the configurable to SEPIC technology supports lower LED string voltage.
It can also be used in any application requiring multiple output, high voltage, low current sourcing and sinking capabilities.
At that time, students were also asked if they thought that there might be any living organisms in a single drop of water. They are now hatched and in the larval stage, ready to be viewed using the compound microscopes by the students. Students were asked to complete a number of activities in groups (2 to 3 students per microscope) which required them to practice using the course and fine focus, adjusting the diaphragm, using the three objective lenses (4x, 10x, 40x), calculating total magnification, and measuring the diameter of the field of view.
Methane is a dry gas which means that it forces out moisture and oxygen from the soil as it flows upwards.
The class was able to observe a number of these fungi growing on a tree just blocks from the Curley School (see bottom-most photo). We have 7th graders for the first half of the year and 8th graders for the second half of the year. The HV Amplifier series largely finds application in capacitive drive applications, such as drivers for MEMS analog mirrors for laser beam steering as used in networking, LIDAR, imaging, and other applications. I came around to each group and placed a drop of solution containing the red-stained yeast on their slides such that the yeast solution could slowly bleed into the droplet of water containing the brine shrimp. The second activity asked students to explore the concept of focal planes by making a wet mount of three layers of different colored ribbon. Once a tree has been colonized by such fungi, not much may be done to save the tree from further decline and eventual death. Everyone seemed very engaged and took ownership over their contribution to the decision making process. It was definitely a challenge to complete the set-up for the investigation in one 60 minute period! Working with brine shrimp introduces the concepts of different life cycle stages (with unique morphologies), dormancy, and microscopic life.
They were asked to prepare a clean glass slide upon which I placed a single drop of water containing one to two brine shrimp. The students were very engaged in making observations of the rather frantic feeding patterns of their brine shrimp (the shrimp had not eaten for a few days and were very hungry). I think that this concept is a difficult one to grasp but the wet mount slide certainly helped make it more tangible to the students.
Physiological stress induced by below-ground natural gas leaks can also cause epicormic budding along the base and trunk of trees. I tried to facilitate discussion during the introductory presentation to engage the students, as well as to discern their base level understanding of old and new concepts.
Arguments were not as in-depth as I would have hoped, but overall the students were able to articulate the key concepts of interest associated with urban organisms and the carbon cycle. The students were then responsible for placing the slide on the microscope stage, adjusting the diaphragm (the shrimp are translucent and too much light can wash out the image), and bringing the shrimp into focus. The students recorded their observations in their science notebooks and made sketches of the brine shrimp. Once they began to understand the connection between moving the stage up and down (using the course or fine focus) and being able to focus on the first, second, or third layer of ribbon, the idea that thicker samples have multiple planes of focus became much more approachable. Epicormic budding is a term that describes a shoot or a branch that sprouts from under the bark of a tree.
Most of the students were engaged and excited to ask questions and offer up answers and opinions.
Many of the students had a difficult time with this task as the brine shrimp investigation represents the first time they have attempted to view living, moving specimens with their microscopes. Notably, as the brine shrimp appear translucent, the red-stained yeast is easy to spot as it accumulates in the gut of the shrimp. When these buds originate at the base or the trunk of the tree, rather than the crown, this indicates that the tree is making a last ditch effort to maintain photosynthetic viability and survive. I tried to emphasize the relevance of the gas leak problem in their daily lives and their role as organisms in an urban ecosystem. To limit the shrimps’ movement, students blotted at the edges of their water droplet with paper towel to decrease the volume of water in the droplet and thus limit the range of movement for the shrimp.
Students were also able to observe example of this sort of epicormic budding on a number of trees associated with gas leaks. The students seemed to grasp the importance of the role of science in decision making and the difficulty of arriving at unanimous solutions for environmental problems in our community.



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