BioBus Rolls into District with Mobile Science Lessons
This week, fifth graders at all three elementary schools had the opportunity to hop onto the BioBus, a high-tech Airstream trailer-turned-science classroom, and take a fascinating tour of the microscopic world all around us. The bus made stops at Buchanan-Verplanck and Furnace Woods; students from Frank G. Lindsey were brought over to Furnace Woods for their turn to board the mobile lab.
Through the magic of a microscope connected to a large monitor, BioBus scientists Robert Frawley and Seneca Lee demonstrated how a tiny sample of pond water contains much more than meets the eye. When magnified images of single cell organisms suddenly appeared on screen, the students (and teachers) were transfixed.
“That one looks like a monster!” exclaimed one student, as an unusually large organism -- relative to everything else on the screen – quickly zipped by. As various otherworldly creatures came into view, Frawley zoomed in on a few to show how they consume nutrients in the water, such as algae. “See how that one’s cilia is pulling in the material floating nearby?” he asked the students.
Students then had the opportunity to view samples themselves, using the multiple research-grade microscopes on board the bus.
Frawley and Lee also took some time to explain the concept of ecosystems. As an example, they described the cycle by which the sun nourishes plants, animals consume the plants, and the animals' ultimate decomposition provides energy back to plants through the soil. Frawley told the students that the fascinating worlds they were observing via microscope were “micro ecosystems.”
Buchanan-Verplanck fifth grader Jamie Bove was delighted with his visit to the BioBus. “I think it’s really cool to see tiny animals, and it’s so great to see a science lab up close,” he said.
Jamie's teacher, Caitlin Tomassi, said that the visit made her students very excited for science at Blue Mountain Middle School next year. "The hands-on activities were very engaging, and the students were able to use their understanding of the scientific method to ask thoughtful questions."
The BioBus is supported by Regeneron, and a Con Ed grant, obtained by the Hendrick Hudson Free Library, made the elementary school visits possible.