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Main | Things To Take Back To My Students »

Something New...

I received a great opportunity to work in Dr. Saunder’s lab for about a week. This was something new and different for me since I have never had an interest in bones.  Once I started to work in the lab my perception changed.  I fell in love.  Who would have thought learning something new would spark such interest?!  The advice I will give my students is to "never be afraid of trying something new because you may fall in love." 

Katelyn Gurley who just graduated with an engineering degree taught me a lot in the lab and guided me through everything I needed to know.   She was a great teacher that I can honestly say I can successfully run the microCT confidently without any assistance.  In this study 2-day old neonatal femurs were obtained from rats to determine the effects of growth in culture. Bones were harvested and placed in culture.  Comparisons were made between 1, 2, and 4 weeks.  The goal was to determine the long-term culture viability of bones under basic culture conditions of passive diffusion to determine useful culture life. (1)   The microCT was used to analyze these bones.  The femurs were taken from neonatal rats.  Left limbs were analyzed at 24 hr after harvest; the contralateral right limb was taken at 1, 2 or 4 wk culture.  We then compared these bones. For the short amount of time I was there I was able to use the microCT to analyze bones at week 4.  Katelyn completed weeks 1 and 2.  After the bones were analyzed we were able to run statistical measures to compare all of our data.


So how do I incorporate it in the classroom?


In a Geometry classroom, how to find volume and area of different figures is learned.  In this lab, the microCT calculated the bone and total volume of a femur.  This will be brought back to the classroom by telling students how important it is to know what volume and area are before tests are ran on any object.  Even though the scanner computed results automatically it is important for students to have the basis of these terms or students won’t understand what they truly mean when the results are printed out.


Bones from Day 27 and Day 1 were compared, by using ratios.  A simple skill as ratios is important for students to know how to compute while working in this lab.  Geometry students use ratios to compare different volumes and areas of different objects.  This determines if the object is 2 times, 3 times, etc. big as the original object.  Hence, ratios are important to know how to use, which will be explained to students through telling them about the summer research program.


For Algebra II students, in Dr. Saunders lab statistics was used to analyze the data that was measured.  A software program called GraphPad Prism did all of the calculations but if there was no basic understanding of what those meant there will be a sense of feeling lost.  So in the classroom the importance to know what is mean, standard deviation, standard error, etc. will be explained because it is important to not only know how to compute it but to have an understanding of what these terms are. An excel worksheet was also used to store data and complete a few mathematical computations. In the classroom students will be taken to a computer lab to run a few computations using Microsoft Excel.   Students will also see if one certain data value is changed how that changes the rest of the data values. 

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