Date of Award

5-2016

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Department

Environmental Science

First Advisor

Jeremy Kirchman

Second Advisor

Justin Minder

Abstract

Hands-on learning is believed to be one of the best ways to engage students in science. Science is meant to invoke curiosity and imagination. It is up to educators to teach science in a way that will welcome students rather than scare them away. In this project, a science lab activity was designed, in collaboration with the New York State Museum, to help students better understand the concept of evolution as it appears in birds. Students must measure the leg and wing bones of six different bird species, and find the ratio between each bird’s leg and wing length. Students are then asked to compare these ratios between the birds and each of their feeding niches. This lesson was designed to help students better understand the theory of convergent evolution. Once the lesson was designed, it was tested on a group of 60 science teachers. The teachers helped give the museum educators a better idea of how it would work in a classroom setting. The lesson was revised to better fit the needs of the teachers and to help bridge the gap between the museum and the classroom. Some revisions that were made were to include more background information, decrease the number of bird species, and include more detailed diagrams. Another idea to make this lesson more accessible to teachers was 3D printing. The idea is that the museum could scan the bird bones and have the files available online for educators to 3D print the bird bones for their school. This paper discusses a hands-on science activity created to help bring museum resources into the classroom and give students an opportunity to learn scientific concepts.

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