Learning Through Research

Community College Abstracts

Identification and Mapping of Harmful Algal Cysts in the Puget Sound Basin -- North Seattle Community College
Students: Kathy K Perreira, Jessica M Pelkey, Morgan Elizabeth Eisenlord
Advisors: Ann Murkowski
Paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) has become a major problem in Puget Sound causing repeated closures of shellfish beds, which affect both commercial and recreational harvests. In addition, the increased frequency of such events may have both ecological and human health implications. Alexandrium catenella is one of the dinoflagellete species of algae responsible for producing toxins that cause PSP in this region. When environmental conditions become favorable, resting cysts of A. catenella bloom, releasing the toxins(Cox et al, 2008). These cysts have been found in the sediments of various regions around Puget Sound and identified visually as A. catenella. There has, however, been very little definitive confirmation of their identity, as this requires molecular techniques. We are using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) on individual cysts to confirm the identity of these A.catenella cysts. This will allow us to both accurately map the spatial distribution of the cysts, as well as better understand the timing and mode of their introduction to the Puget Sound Basin.
Integrating Google Earth with the QUEST for Science Literacy
Students: Sara Neville
Advisors: Laura A. Guertin
As technology advances, students have access to an ever-growing library of resources to enhance their learning. Young students, however, may not choose to read nonfiction, Earth science-based books during their free time. With the help of Google Earth, a new method of learning called the Google Earth QUEST (Questioning and Understanding Earth Science Themes) brings visualization, technology, and relevant scientific content into the classroom.
Inspired by the award-winning Google Lit Trips and the National Science Foundation-funded TESSE (Transforming Earth Systems Science Education) Workshop for pre-service and in-service 6-12 teachers, the Google Earth QUEST was formed to bring the content of nonfiction books into TESSE participants’ classrooms. Teachers struggled with communicating the knowledge they gained from the workshop’s common read, The Control of Nature by John McPhee, to their students in a fresh and meaningful way. One public showing of the QUEST for The Control of Nature to the workshop’s participants has provided great feedback, unanimous praise, and a desire for more. Immediately, several teachers requested Google Earth QUESTs for Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations, by David Montgomery, and Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change, by Elizabeth Kolbert.
A Google Earth QUEST not only summarizes important content for students, but pairs technology and a visual experience with science literacy. Google Earth QUESTs are satiating a hunger for innovative ways to teach; with Google Earth’s easy, free access, a QUEST has the ability to bring science literacy to a worldwide demographic.