It can’t be avoided: the standards must be met! While we encourage educators everywhere to break free from the shackles of bureaucratic granularity in education… we also admit that education standards perform a necessary function. There are educational and developmental milestones that all students should achieve, and it is the goal of the standards to ensure our nation’s youth reach them! TL;DR? Read to the bottom to see the NGSS alignment chart!
For educators on the outset, the standards help you develop your scope and sequence. The NGSS, in particular, are great as they focus on “three-dimensional learning” and hands-on inquiry, offering students the opportunity to be scientists. This can help any teacher develop a curriculum that will encourage skepticism and problem-solving.
But for the teachers who want to develop radical new lesson plans, experiences, and who may even want their students to “Fail” (in the best way!) over and over again as they tackle an incredibly tough problem, there may be hours of content in the course that don’t meet a specific standard, despite the fact that students are learning valuable lessons about what it means to be a scientist, to perform their own research, to fail, fail fail, and finally achieve something unique and new. But, in order to help your students earn this experience, while still ticking every box on your standards, it requires you to be very economical with their class time.
Our kits and experiments at Backyard Brains offer a great opportunity for you to meet tricky standards in a meaningful way (like MS LS1-8). The same kits are also powerful tools for teachers looking to buck the trend and throw their students into uncharted territories, like encouraging your middle school and high school students to perform and present their own independent research projects!
Check out this map which cross-aligns many of our kits and experiments with NGSS standards and the “Neuroscience Core Concepts,” a set of guiding principals set forth by the “Society for Neuroscience” which offer teachers a roadmap for critical knowledge and skills that can help a K12 student on their way to a career in Neuroscience. Don’t let your “Scope and Sequence” limit you and your students’ potential; rather, leverage these standards and tools like ours to inspire a culture of problem-based learning where your students will still learn the unchanging, fundamental skills and ideas, but then apply that knowledge to new and novel questions.
While not completely comprehensive, check out this infographic and following list is to guide you to the kits and experiments which may best fit holes in your current scope and sequence!
PEPPERMINT IS THE NEW VANILLA: CHANGING OLFACTORY MEMORIES THROUGH OPERANT CONDITIONING IN COCKROACHES (my working paper title, you dig it?)
Hey all, it’s Alex again! I have completed quite a bit since my previous post. If you already forgot about who I am (you monster!), I’m the intern performing the operant conditioning research on cockroaches! I’m trying to get them to favor the taste of peppermint (which they naturally dislike) over vanilla (which they naturally love). Picking up where I left off last, remember that box I laser cut? That was my testing and housing environment and it started me off on a good foot. I have run preference tests with the Americana cockroaches with mixed positive and negative results. Initially I got a lot of (more…)
Hi my name is Marta Mazur! I am a junior majoring in neuroscience at Michigan State University and I’m part of the Backyard Brains Summer Camp (internship program). My goal by the end of the summer is to create an apparatus to measure the circadian rhythm of a cockroach, or rather the natural sleep/wake cycle of a cockroach. I’m interested in how the circadian rhythm involves the physiological changes throughout the day that are affected by external and internal cues.
Prior to starting the internship, I conducted research to gather some background information focused around experiments performed on the circadian rhythm. One of the articles, “Effects of Light-Dark Cycles on the Circadian Conidiation Rhythm in Neurospora crassa” (Chang and Nakashima, 1997), experimented with the light-dark cycles on mutated versions of the frq gene of a certain type of bread mold (Neurospora Crassa). After reading the article, I decided to experiment with the light-dark cycles to see how would that affect the circadian rhythm of a cockroach.
Cockroaches are nocturnal, which means they produce the most activity throughout the night. Just like us, they have a 12:12 light-dark cycle, so what would happen if I kept a normal 12:12 cycle for ten days then switched to 24 hours of darkness for another ten days? Would we see a change in the cockroach’s circadian rhythm? Over a course of twenty days, I hope to see “free running” occur, meaning, after not having any regular external cues to notify the cockroach what time of day it is, it will develop its own mechanism to determine its biological clock. In order to track this data, I would be measuring the activity of the cockroach. I contemplated using sound data, but even someone accidentally touching the box could skew my data. The speaker could also pick up outside noise. Video data would have been too complicated and pricy. Finally, it was decided that there would be sensors (Initially PIR sensors were decided, but after experimenting, it was decided that IR emitter and detectors would be used as well).
The next task was to figure out what would be the main “activity” that the cockroach would perform. A cockroach treadmill was suggested, but after researching more about the circadian rhythm, I found that one experiment created a cockroach exercise wheel using balsa wood. I then decided to use an exercise wheel to put in my box. Trying to build a wheel deemed harder than it seemed and it has been the hardest part of the experiment so far. I bought balsa wood, and soaked it in hot water for 3-6 hours, and slowly tried bending it, but it would always crack. Then I thought about using cardboard as a material for the wheel. After building a prototype, it seemed that the cardboard wasn’t supportive enough and the wheel wouldn’t balance. After that, I went to Jo-Ann Fabrics, and bought every light-weight cylindrical object that they had to see if it would work. Eventually, I was able to work with Alex Hatch, one of the BYB designers, to build a cockroach wheel and a stand with the PIR sensor and IR emitter/detector embedded inside, using a 3-D printer.
So far, I have performed four experiments that are just based on testing the sensors and the wheel. The very first experiment tested the PIR sensor to see if it would pick up the cockroach’s motion during the night.
It was started at 6:23 p.m. and ended at 9:11 a.m. After seeing that the data was only producing zeros (no motion), I went to check on the cockroach and found out that during the night, it had died. That explained the lack of activity 🙁 Raw data below. (zeros represent lack of activity, 1s represent triggering the motion sensor)
Time to try again with a more lively cockroach! My experimental set up for the second attempt is pictured below.
The second experiment replicated experiment one, except it showed more conclusive results (picture 3). During the night, the PIR sensor was able to pick up the movement of the cockroach twice. The data showed what I wanted, but I needed a stronger sensor (the IR emitter/detector). Raw data below:
Experiment three tested to see if the IR emitter and detector would pick up the wheel moving at least once. I started the experiment at 5:20 p.m. and ended it at 8:45 a.m.. Raw data below:
As shown by the data, it did in fact work. The sensor was interrupted 5,680 times. Besides for showing that the sensors worked, it also meant that the cockroach used the wheel, which is very important for my main experiment.
The fourth experiment that I performed was to see if the PIR sensor would pick up any movement during the day. I started the experiment at 10:50 a.m and ended it at 2:25 a.m.. Raw data below:
The data showed only zeros, but considering the fact that the cockroach is nocturnal, it would be understandable to see no activity throughout the daytime. My next task will be setting up the apparatus so I’ll be able to test my main experiment. Overall, the experiment has proved to be a challenge, but I am excited to see how things develop and hopefully come to some conclusive results by the end of July!