Now that we are getting our feet firmly underneath us research-wise, we have started to build an outreach/service program for the lab. We were recently helped in this endeavor by UGA’s chapter of SciREN (Scientific Research and Education Network). We put together lesson plans for 5th and 7th graders and then networked with teachers in the Athens area to share our resources and build connections for future outreach efforts. Our 5th grade lesson plan focuses on worm classification. Our 7th grade lesson plan focuses on biological hierarchies (cell/tissue/organ/organ system) and is fully focused on planarians.
I also did my first preschool outreach event. (Side note: I was exhausted after only half an hour!) We talked about living vs. non-living things and I brought several living things (planarians, centipede, plants — all “gross”) to the classroom.
We also frequently volunteer (individually) for local/regional Science Olympiad and Science Fair competitions. I just judged the CCSD middle school science fair for the 2nd year in a row. It was awesome.
Both events were fun and we are very excited to build more outreach activities to share our research, learn from our community, and hopefully contribute to STEM education efforts in our community, too! Teachers in the greater Athens-Clarke County area who would like to bring planarians into the classroom are always welcome to contact Rachel for more information.