2017 Summer Workshop for Educators

Got Milkweed? Collecting Data about Milkweed to Inform Our Response to the Monarch Population Decline.  July 11-13, 2017.  St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN.

Monarch caterpillars only eat one kind of plant–milkweed. As monarch butterfly populations are declining and more people are planting milkweed, what is important to understand about this food source? This workshop introduces participants to a distributed research project designed to help students understand evolution and ecology through inquiry about milkweed plants while simultaneously gathering data to answer important scientific questions, such as: “What should we do to slow the decline of the monarch butterfly populations?” and  “Does the origin of milkweed seeds affect their growth?”

Participating institutions will plant milkweed seeds from local and non-local populations and gather data on milkweed growth annually in spring and fall to determine whether milkweed populations are locally adapted, meaning it would be beneficial to plant locally-sourced milkweed genotypes, or whether there are certain superior milkweed genotypes that perform better in all locations.  Learning opportunities align well with Life Science Next Generation Science Standards at both middle and high school levels. The project requires a one-time collection of common milkweed seeds from a naturally occurring (not planted) local population, space and time to plant 20 or more milkweed plants, and a commitment to work with students annually to follow specific protocols for data collection in the spring and fall for multiple years.  Optional extensions for data collection during the summer are in development.

Details: We welcome new and returning participants from across the native range of common milkweed.  We especially encourage participants from New England and Midwest regions of the United States and educators who work with students under-represented in the sciences.  We have reached capacity for in-person attendees, but you can still apply to virtually participate in parts of the workshop.  You can also sign up to receive an email link to view recordings of the sessions. Certificates for CEUs will be available to those who participate in person or virtually. Groups of teachers from the same school or district are encouraged to apply.

Apply Now!  Applications will next be reviewed during the week of May 8.

Tentative Schedule: Items in blue italics are suitable for virtual participation.

Day 1. Tuesday, July 11 (starts mid-day to accommodate travelers)

Question of the Day: What should we do about declining monarch populations?

  • Lunch 12-1
  • Welcome and Introductions 1:00
  • Monarch Decline+Possible causes 1:30-3:00
  • Milkweed: stations and field 3-5

Day 2. Wednesday, July 12

Question of the Day: If we plant milkweed, does it matter where the seeds come from?

  • Field Plot measurements, data collection, and data entry 9-12
  • Lunch 12-1
  • Evolution and Local Adaptation 1-2:45
  • Supporting Information 3-4
    • Other Protocols: Seed collection, site selection/preparation, germination, etc.
    • Argumentation and Data Jam Introduction
  • Time for lesson planning, modification, questions; order needed supplies. 4-5

Day 3. Thursday, July 13

  • Making Predictions; Cleaning and Analyzing data 9-11
  • Group work time: Argumentation and Data Jam 11-12
  • Lunch 12-1 (evaluations)
  • Poster session/Data Jam 1-3:00

Research Update-Spring 2017

A lot has happened in the lab this past year.  Most notably, Olivia and Jacqueline completed summer research projects, moving us forward in our study of local adaptation and geographic variation in common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca.  They logged lots of hours in the greenhouse, measuring milkweed growth responses to damage by both aphids and caterpillars.  Jacqueline took the lead on this project. We’re still looking at the data, but we expect to have a story to tell soon because Jacqueline will be presenting at NCUR!

We also spent some time in the field, setting up a small common garden to test the methods for a future transplant study of local adaptation in milkweed.  Olivia took the lead on this project, developing a rich curriculum and videos to help students and teachers understand why and how to participate in the project.  She helped lead a workshop for a great group of teachers in August!  Even my ecology students braved the mosquitoes to collect data on the plot in the fall, and some of them chose to write their final papers on the project.

Current students are working on revising some of the methods and curriculum as we prepare to expand the local adaptation project next summer.

 

2016 Summer Workshops for Teachers

We are pleased to offer two workshops for teachers this summer at St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN

Applications Below

  1. Got Milkweed? Collecting Data about Milkweed to Inform Our Response to the Monarch Population Decline.  August 2-3, 2016

 Monarch caterpillars only eat one kind of plant–milkweed. As monarch butterfly populations are declining and more people are planting milkweed,what is important to understand about this food source? This workshop introduces participants to a new distributed research project designed to help students understand evolution and ecology through inquiry about milkweed plants while simultaneously gathering data to answer important scientific questions, such as: “What should we do to slow the decline of the monarch butterfly populations?” and  “Does the origin of milkweed seeds affect their growth?”

Participating schools will plant milkweed seeds from local and non-local populations and gather data annually in spring and fall to determine whether milkweed populations are locally adapted, meaning it would be beneficial to plant locally sourced milkweed genotypes, or whether there are certain superior milkweed genotypes that perform better in all locations.  Learning opportunities align well with Life Science Next Generation Science Standards at both middle and high school levels. The project requires a one-time collection of common milkweed seeds from a naturally occurring (not planted) local population, space in which to plant about 16 milkweed plants, and a commitment to work with students annually to follow specific protocols for data collection in the spring and fall for multiple years. $200 stipend for participation.  For more information about the experiment, visit this link.

  1. Tackling Challenges in Middle School Science.  August 3-5, 2016

What are some of the biggest challenges you face in your teaching?  Come together with other middle school teachers to share ideas and workshop a lesson or series of lessons that you’d like to improve.  Learn about reading and data analysis strategies to incorporate into your teaching, and get new ideas from disciplinary and interdisciplinary scientists and researchers.  Spend time integrating what you have learned into your plans for the future.  $300 stipend for participation.

 

Details

We invite applications to one or both workshops, and we encourage groups of teachers from the same school or district to apply.  Teachers who participate in both workshops will receive a maximum $400 stipend.  Additional funds are available to support travel and lodging for teachers who live more than 50 miles from St. Olaf College, to support purchase of supplies necessary to implement school-based projects, and for participation in follow up activities during the school year.

These workshops are supported by a grant from HHMI to St. Olaf College.  We offered similar workshops in previous years.  Participants appreciated the opportunity to learn and collaborate with colleagues.

“This is hands-down the best workshop I have ever attended.”—2015 Participant

“The time to work on planning was invaluable and the tools we were exposed to are exciting.”—2015 Participant

“I very much enjoyed this workshop. I liked having the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues from my school district as well as grade-specific colleagues from other districts… Great workshop!”  –2014 Participant

Tentative Schedules

Got Milkweed?

  • August 2 (Late start ~noon):  Introductions. Lunch. Monarchs and milkweeds—stories and hypotheses. Research problem and protocols: data collection in the St. Olaf natural lands.
  • August 3: Data submission, analysis, and proposing solutions.“Data jam” presentations. Lunch. Reflections and commitments.  *Afternoon session optional. Tackling teaching challenges: Reading and data strategies.

 

Tackling Challenges

  • August 3: (Late start ~noon). Lunch. Introductions. Tackling teaching challenges: Reading and data strategies.
  • August 4: Group Time: Workshopping challenges. Lunch. Subject specific workshops.  Individual Planning.
  • August 5 Attend and evaluate research presentations. Goals, plans, order supplies.  Reflections and commitments.

 

Apply now

Applications submitted by May 15 will receive full consideration.  Applications received after that date will be accepted if space is available.

Got Milkweed Application

Tackling Challenges Application

For more information: If you have any questions about the workshops, please contact Emily Mohl at mohl@stolaf.edu.

2015 Fall Research

We had a great group in the lab this fall and we made a good start on several projects.

IMG_1633

Christina and Jacqueline took the lead on testing lots of different methods that will ultimately help us test whether the same milkweed genotypes that tolerate clipping also tolerate aphid herbivory.  Turns out, our milkweed plants were highly tolerant!  But, there were some aphid species that did affect milkweed growth, even as the aphids died out.  This wasn’t what we initially expected.  Could we be seeing a cost to some kind of induced plant resistance?

Jenny created a lab on aphid plasticity in wing development that I used in Invertebrate Biology over interim. Grant and I keep plugging away on a model of plant defense; I presented our latest results at the Entomology Meetings this year. Tyler helped us all and gave us good feedback along the way.

2015 Middle School Science Workshop

Limited space available for 6th grade physical science teachers only… APPLY BELOW!

Integrating Best Practices in Middle School Science

At St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN

August 18-21, 2015

We will offer interactive sessions that let you explore and practice best practices in middle school science teaching, with a focus on engaging all students, science literacy, and teaching around authentic science problems.  You will work together with other middle school science teachers in your field to develop and refine teaching materials that will help you implement new practices in your teaching about a specific topic or standard.  We have modest funds available to support purchase of supplies that you may need to implement your plans.

We encourage groups of teachers from across grade-levels within the same school or district to apply.  Teachers will receive a $300 stipend as compensation for their time, with up to $100 additional stipend available for participation in follow up events/reflections in October and during the spring.  For teachers who live more than 50 miles from St. Olaf College, we have some funds available to reimburse travel and lodging expenses.

Tentative Schedule

  • August 18 (half day):  Lunch. Introductions and Curriculum Team Formation. Rotate through a selection of introductory workshops*.  Reflection.
  • August 19: School Team Goal Setting. Curriculum Team Work Time. Lunch. Interactive workshop: Engaging students in expressing science literacy. Reflection.
  • August 20: Group Check Ins.  Curriculum Team Work Time.  Lunch. Interactive Workshop: “Authentic” science and engineering projects to motivate learning.  Reflection.
  • August 21 (half day): Presentations and feedback. Revisions, Supplies, and Next Steps.  Lunch.

*Introductory Workshop topics to be determined based on participant interest.  Possible choices include: Using WIDA standards to differentiate lesson plans, Incorporating Universal Design into teaching, Incorporating close reading into science classes, Using learning cycles to plan science instruction, Identifying essential questions and anchoring events to motivate a unit, Using models to teach about the nature of science and engineering, Using the three dimensions of the Next Generation Science Standards to plan instruction.

This workshop is supported by a grant from HHMI to St. Olaf College.  We offered a similar workshop in 2014.  Participants appreciated the opportunity to learn and collaborate with colleagues.

“I very much enjoyed this workshop. I liked having the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues from my school district as well as grade-specific colleagues from other districts. I also liked that the workshop was specific to the middle school. I feel that the presentations were geared to everyone in the group, not just one specific discipline. Great workshop!”  –2014 Participant

We have limited spaces available for 6th grade physical science teachers; other spaces are full.  Each individual interested in attending should complete an Individual Application form.  It will be useful for our planning if teams of teachers from the same school work together to complete the School Goal Sheet, but this is optional.

Apply now:  Individual Application Form (required);  School Goal Sheet (optional)

For more information: If you have any questions about the workshop and/or wish to inquire about travel reimbursement, please contact Emily Mohl at mohl@stolaf.edu.