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Another Good Reason for Eggnog!

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Dr. Ray  Menard, PhDIn our next installment of the 2010 – 2011 Grants, we  explore real-world application of the sciences with Ray Menard (Natural Sciences, Gibbs), and learn more about Biological Science Student Research.

Describe your project. Did the project end up being significantly different then the original plan and why?

The project was designed to give students hands on experience doing science experiments. They were able to initially work as a team and then, after gaining skills, independently. Additionally, good note taking and critical thinking were also accomplished.

What was the chief accomplishment of your project? What problem did you solve?

The chief accomplishment was that the students gained knowledge in how to design and implement various scientific experiments in order to answer critical questions in biology. I feel the main problem solved was that students didn’t always realize the importance of keeping a detailed lab notebook. They realized how important it is to keep a very detailed and up to date notebook.

Microbes inhibited by clovesWhat were the results? Did you see a numeric increase or a qualitative improvement?

The results of this project are the students gained hands on experience in DNA and protein analysis, as well as microbiology techniques. They were successful in showing that various spices, such as cinnamon and cloves, have antimicrobial properties. Their technical skills at the end of the project were very good. The students also began to formulate hypothesis on what they would do to further investigate the antimicrobial properties of herbs.

Did YOU learn anything from the project? Did you make any changes to your teaching style or content?

Students setting up plates as a team
Students setting up plates as a team

I most certainly learned a great deal from this project. One major area was that students didn’t always recognize how the information they learn in class was used in the real world. They also gained a lot more confidence in a smaller setting that I think is telling. Sometimes students get lost in large labs and don’t always get a chance to do an experiment. I’ve tried to make sure I use real life examples of how certain experiments are used in clinical and science labs throughout the world. I am also altering and updating my lab classes so that students will work independently or at least in pairs and not larger groups.

Can another teacher use your project? How can they implement your learning?

I think other instructors could use the results of this project in their classes. If more real life examples are included, the students are more likely to retain the information they’ve learned

Do you have plans for a follow-up project/additional research? If you did a grant again, what would you do differently?

I have actually just submitted a grant to the SPC Foundation to design a biotechnology class at SPC. This project is different in that it will include only 6 students, 3 lower division and 3 upper division biology students. I am working with another instructor and making this a more focused project using some pre-designed experiments from a biotech company called Biorad.

Ray is also a winner of the FGO Creativity Awards. The Faculty Governance Organization recognized five faculty members this year who were especially creative:

  • Cher Gauweiler,  College of Education, Tarpon Springs
  • David Manson, Humanities/Music, Gibbs
  • Robin Jensen and Linda Yakle, Communications, Clearwater
  • Monica Lara and Heyward Mathews, Natural Sciences, Clearwater
  • Ray Menard, Natural Sciences, Gibbs

Congratulations to all these winners for their hard work and achievements!

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