UC researchers visit eighth grade students

UC researchers visit eighth grade students
Posted on 06/08/2017
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By Natalie Brady, Communications Intern

As the eighth grade students at Indian Hill Middle School were finishing up their school year studying adaptations and natural selection in science class, they were privy to a visit from a research team from the University of Cincinnati, studying the Mexican Blind Cavefish and its associated adaptations. Heading the team was Dr. Josh Gross, a leading researcher in the field of Evolutionary Biology, and a neighborhood friend of IH eighth grade science teacher Mark Campbell. According to Mr. Campbell, the “blindness adaption of the cavefish was a perfect curricular fit” for the end of the year studies.

The research team came to the IH Middle School Multipurpose room and split the students into groups. Each group spent 55 minutes with Dr. Gross and his research team, learning about the blindness adaptation of the cave fish through a presentation, stations that were set up throughout the room, and discussion questions provided by the team. The stations that were set up in the room actually revolved around small bowls of fish. Specifics of the stations included feeding behavior, where students determined how fast each fish (cavefish and surface fish) finds food in its tank; light/dark preference, where they determined if cave and surface fish prefer to be in the lightened or darkened side of the tank; swimming depth, where the students determined if the two different types of fish prefer to swim in different parts of the tank; and a sensory deprivation activity, which was an interactive activity where students wore glasses that blocked their sight and reacted to a quiet buzzing sound produced by one of the research team members. After each station, the students responded to questions, and the session ended with a guided question and answer discussion.

The students experienced the process of doing and recording real scientific research while they enhanced the classroom curricular objectives. Mr. Campbell said, “The students’ engagement level exceeded all of our expectations. Dr. Gross and his research team could not say enough positive things about the students’ participation and level of inquiry.”