We started the day by talking about genotypes and phenotypes, environmental and genetic influences (with an example using handedness), and why we use guppies to address our questions. Then we had a lot of fun modeling the effects of color on predation risk using skittles as our prey. We put them on colored backgroundsto see how many of which colors were "captured". Once the students generated histograms of their data, we found out that the skittles that matched the background were "captured" less often!
|Preparing to "capture" skittles|
|Discussing the role of color in survival|
We also looked at 4 guppies and compared their color. Two guppies were low predation brothers that were raised in two environments, and the other two were high predation brothers raised in two environments. By knowing the genetic background as well as the rearing history, we determined that color brightness in guppies was primarily determined by environmental changes! The students also had a chance to tour our guppy rearing facility at the end of their visit.
|Examining guppy coloration|
|Comparing guppies raised in different environments|
|Discussing genetic and environmental influences|
After talking about guppies, they also heard from Molly Womack, who talked about her research on earless toads! She brought cleared and stained toads, a fish embedded for histological sectioning, and live eared and earless toads for everyone to see! She also gave the students a chance to ask those burning questions about her life as a graduate student. They had great questions!
|Examining two species of toads|
|This looks like a fishing story..."it was THIS big!"|
|A cleared and stained toad|
Thanks to several graduate and undergraduate students for helping with this activity: Rachel Bockrath, Dale Broder, Francis Commercon, Travis Klee, Mitchell Leroy, and Molly Womack! Hopefully their trip to CSU inspired the 7th graders to learn more about genetics and heredity.