Very occasionally, the opportunity arises for a group of people to decide where and how to build a city. In 1792 the legislators of North Carolina confronted such a moment. It had been decided that a new state capital was going to be built and that that state capital should ideally be far from the sea. Without having to worry about the best beachfront property, the legislators found themselves free to prioritize other things. So it was that they decided upon the rule to be used in placing [...]

Insects Headline Art of Science Exhibit

Science is boring. Art is Stupid. Prove us wrong.

These are the words that launched the annual Art of Science exhibition at Princeton University. The exhibit highlights examples of accidental art – images and video collected in the process of doing science that somehow go beyond the numeric values of their pixels. This year I was excited to have four of my photographs included in the exhibit.

Taking photos while doing research gives students and scientists a chance to embrace their curiosity. There’s a lot more freedom behind a lens [...]

Students Discover: The third week

Time flies when you’re having fun (and working hard)! Last week marked the third and final week of our time with the Students Discover Kenan Fellows at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. The week was jam-packed with lab work, lesson planning, more small mammal trapping, visits behind-the-scenes to the Museum’s collections and Arthropod Zoo, and a special lunch with Dr. Emlyn Koster, the Museum’s director. Here are some highlights from his remarks to the group:

I think museums are increasingly vital resources. The experiences that you’ve [...]

By |July 21st, 2014|Education|0 Comments|

Before They Were Scientists: Jiri Hulcr

In hearing about Jiri Hulcr‘s childhood growing up during the revolution in the Czech Republic, I gained some insight into how he approaches science. He can be seen in the above picture (the only photo of him during his middle school years) wearing the blue cap; this photo was taken at a traditional pig killing. The person steaming and shaving the pig was the butcher, and every single piece of the pig is utilized. For Jiri, these pig killings (and subsequent butcherings) were essential lessons in animal anatomy [...]

Meet the 2014 Students Discover Fellows

As readers of our blog and Twitter feed well know, we’ve spent the last three weeks working side-by-side with 12 North Carolina middle school teachers at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. These teacher-scientists and Museum researchers have been busy in the field and at the lab bench, co-creating citizen science projects and lesson plans that the teachers will take back to their classrooms in the fall. The goal: Create opportunities for kids to do REAL science, to make new and exciting scientific discoveries. Hence [...]

By |July 17th, 2014|Education|0 Comments|

Nature in NSF’s Backyard

2014 marks the 3rd consecutive year that a pair of black vultures (Coragyps atratus) have chosen the roof of the National Science Foundation to raise their family. NSF is an independent federal agency that promotes the progress of science by funding basic research across all fields of science and engineering research and education. [Editor's note: NSF has provided funding for a number of Your Wild Life projects through grants to our principal investigator, Rob Dunn, including School of Ants and Students Discover.] It’s housed [...]

Students Discover: The second week

Last Friday marked the end of the second week of the Students Discover externship for the 12 incredible Kenan Fellows partnered with four postdocs in the labs at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. This past week continued to provide authentic scientific experiences for the teacher-scientists as they delved further into their research. Each group started on creating citizen science-focused lesson plans and even began testing them with museum visitors!

As an added bonus I had a chance to join #TeamDirt (the group developing lesson plans based around [...]

Before They Were Scientists: Joan Herbers

I had the wonderful opportunity to [virtually] meet Joan Herbers this past week and talk about her life as a middle school student and pick her brain about her winding career path. Read on to learn how this preeminent social insect ecologist maintained her individualism while growing up with 12 brothers and sisters, gained a strong appreciation for educators and mentors, and how, at six-years-old, she taught math to nuns.

Lea: Just to set the scene for middle school let’s think about where you were and what things were [...]
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    The Tip of the Gutberg: The World’s First Map of the Patina of Feces

The Tip of the Gutberg: The World’s First Map of the Patina of Feces

If one tells the story of the history of the Earth from the perspective of microbes, one of the great leaps forward was the evolution of animals with guts. From the microbial perspective, animals are wondrous contrivances that evolved for carrying their habitat, the gut, from one patch of food to another and keeping it safe.

Guts are predictably full of food and, even when they are not, all one has to do is wait. They are also constant in their pH and other conditions. They are the perfect world [...]

The Giant Wild Life of our Giant Backyards

Today we’re serving up an elephant double-feature. Click on over to Buzz Hoot Roar to get your second helping of pachyderms.

Last week, I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t get back to sleep. After several unsuccessful attempts to rouse every animal and human in my house for company, I stared out the back window into my moonlit yard. There, creeping through the branches of our sycamore tree was a fat, wiry raccoon.

I caught my breath. He was beautiful. His fur silvery in the moonlight, [...]