Friday, July 6, 2012

A link from Fairchild Gardens on Plant Extracts...Let Students design Experiments getting Ideas from this Ethnobotany Teaching Module

Here is a link from Fairchild Gardens on Plant Extracts...Let Students design Experiments getting Ideas from Fairchild Gardens' Ethnobotany Teaching Module.
A quote from the module suggests that plants might have antibacterial properties:

"Pl[ant]- Antibiotics:                        
Does your Plant [h]ave                    
Anti-[b]acterial Properties?          

"In this experiment we will find out if your plant extract has the ability to kill the bacteria that turns milk into yogurt (like Lactobacillus acidophilus and/or L. bifidus).  These helpful bacteria enhance digestion and are good for you.  If your plant is able to kill or inhibit the growth of these bacteria, there is a possibility that it may also be effective in controlling harmful pathogenic bacteria.  If so, your plant might be a candidate for further research as a potential antibiotic drug for the future. "
Rather than just going ahead with the module,which is adapted from Paye, Gabriell DeBear, 2000. Cultural Uses of Plants: a guide to learning about ethnobotany. New York Botanical Garden Press, New York, first let students brainstorm.  Let them exercise their brains.

·  Students might reflect on what bacteria cause milk to turn to yogurt
   or other cheeses.

·  What bacteria are in their yogurts?  Does yours have Lactobacillus rhamnosis?

·  Would different bacteria react differently?

·  And so on...  

·  Put down all ideas, even if they seem impossible or tangential.

You might then continue with the module, or, let them design experiments.  Review important parts of experimental design.  Remind them of controls, replication, repeatability.  Ask, "What are the parts of an experimental design?"  Ask, "What type of data will you collect?"

Let students create blank data tables for collecting data.  Let them write out their designs, share them.  Let each student select what he or she feels is the best experimental design.  Remind them of the difference between a laboratory activity and a laboratory experiment.

Decide then if they are going to continue with the module.  You may decide to do that, or, you may prefer to do one or more of the student designs, or, you may wish to do the module and the student-designed experiments, of course paying attention to safety and budget, just like in real-world science.  Remind students of government funding for science.  Ask what kinds of research government should fund. 

· Additional reading:
 The United States, under John Kennedy and Japan, under Emperor Hirohito
"[H]is interest in science and in modernizing his country,", Accessed July 7, 2012.)

(c)2012 J S Shipman

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