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Category: Biology

Wildlife Forensics Lab  March 4th, 2015

There is only one wildlife forensics lab in the world and its located in Ashland, Oregon. This forensics lab is just like any other, except the victims are animals. This could be a great oppurtunity to talk with your students about how a wildlife forensics lab might differ from a human one (this link might be helpful). If you are nearby you might want to consider taking a lab tour.

New Grand Engineering Challenge: Food Waste  March 4th, 2015

Food shortage is not the only issue anymore.  Wasting food is having a dramatic effect on the environment, economy and society. An estimated $162 billion is being lost because of unused food, as seen in this New York Times article.  This is an interesting topic to pose to your students. What solutions can you come up with to solve the food waste problem in your club, school, community, state, country or world? How does this solution work? Share with us!


Magnetic Turtle Navigators  February 17th, 2015

We stumbled upon this great activity for middle school science teachers. In this activity students are to learn how to navigate magnetic fields, just like sea turtles do.  This great activity only requires a few supplies and is sure to be a hit in the classroom! Check it out by clicking the picture.


2015 Winter Teacher’s Workshop – Magnificient Macroinvertebrates  February 12th, 2015

At the 2015 Winter Teacher’s Workshop, elementary teachers continued to focus on ecology. Teachers were fortunate to work with researcher and professor in the department of integrative biology, Mark Novak.  A seven lesson unit focused around streams and macroinvertebrates was shared during this session.  Novak provided an overview presentation that can help with understanding the concepts included in these lessons.

Build-a-Bug allows students work in pairs to create macroinvertebrates with adaptations that would allow them to survive in a habitat. This supplemental PowerPoint gives students the necessary background information for this lesson plan.

Home, Home, in a Stream is an activity in which students create mock streams containing the same habitats that they built their bugs for.

In the activity Macro Feeding Frenzie (along with this PowerPoint) students use various tools to collect a variety of ‘food’, which models the different feeding styles and the accompanying adaptations.

Macro Mayhem allows students to play an exciting game to help them understand how pollution impacts the biodiversity of macroinvertebrates found in a stream ecosystem.

In Biodiversity in a Leaf Pack, students create micro-habitats that will attract macroinvertebrates and place them local streams to collect organisms.

With the activity Analyzing a Leaf Pack, students collect leaf packs and analyze their findings.

Hungry, Hungry Macros allows students to use the macros collected from leaf packs and perform an experiment to determine whether shredders or grazers will eat more leaf material.


2015 Winter Teacher’s Workshop – Coral Reefs and Ocean Acidification  February 12th, 2015

During the Winter Teacher’s Workshop, SMILE Elementary Club teachers were introduced to lessons and content around the topics of coral reefs and ocean acidification.

In the first lesson on coral reefs, Coral Reef Diversity, students are introduced to coral reef ecosystems, the importance of coral, and adaptations coral has made to live in a unique habitat. In the second, Coral Skeletons, students learn how coral shells are formed and the impact of climate change has had on coral reef ecosystems worldwide. In the final lesson, Thermal Expansion, students learn about how warming waters affect the ocean ecosystem.

This presentation on coral reefs was shared by PhD Student Katherine Dziedzic from the Department of Integrative Biology.

In the first lesson on ocean acidification, Whale Jenga, students learn about how changes in the food web might impact the ocean ecosystem. In the second, Lego Shell Building, students are to explore how ocean acidification may make it harder for corals to grow shells. In the third lesson, Marine Osteoporosis, students learn about the effects of acidic oceans on certain marine organisms and the causes of ocean acidification. In the fourth lesson, Ocean Acidification Car Activity, students find out how the burning of fossil fuels in automobiles can introduce CO2 to seawater causing acidification. In the final lesson, Ocean Acidification Demo the students observe first hand CO2 being absorbed into water.

The following presentations on ocean acidification were shared by the Olympic Coast Marine Sanctuary as part of the workshop ocean acidification:



From the Ground Up  February 6th, 2015

We love it when you share with us! Paula Barnhart from Nyssa Elementary School thought this soils widget would be a great source for teachers and students. “Not All Soils Are Created Equal” is a great way to explore the soil layers in the Pacific Northwest and around the country. The widget also explores how the specific soil helps grow the plants in the region.  Enjoy exploring the soils around the country by clicking on the picture!

Update: Poplar Trees at Forest Grove High School  November 4th, 2014

We love seeing updates and pictures from the activities SMILE has created. Forest Grove High School was nice enough to share with us the progress of their poplar trees that they received during the 2014 Winter Teacher’s Workshop. Students in this club are taking measurements every week. See for yourself their growing trees:

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Recap: August Teacher’s Workshop  August 22nd, 2014

We had a great time hosting our teacher’s workshop where we got to showcase fun, new activities to use in the club or classroom setting. For the middle school and high school students we shifted our focus toward engineering by showing the teachers an algal lab where the students can design what they think is an optimal place for algae to grow.  For the elementary school students the focus was on ecology and geology, which lead to some awesome hands on activities. All of these activities and those showcased in the workshop can be found below.  Thanks again for joining us this year and please feel free to share your comments on the activities we provided.

Elementary School:

Middle School:

High School:

Riperian dan joseph shawnMS engineering jay