Feel free to email us with suggestions for apps!
Born to Run
This will be our first app. It is a translation of the middle-school active-learning curriculum developed by Drs. Theodore Garland, Jr. and Tricia Radojcic: "Born to Run: Artificial Selection Lab". A paper published at Science Scope describes this lesson plan. The initial translation to an app will be for the UCR course Biology 105, Evolution, and the target date for public release is Fall 2014. Funding to do this has been obtained by Drs. Garland and Hayashi from the UCR Office of Undergraduate Education through a Faculty Instructional Innovation Grant.
Overview from the publication describing Born to Run:
Students rarely get opportunities for inquiry-based learning when they study evolution. Most of their hands-on learning experiences are simulations or involve reviewing data that has already been collected. In this app, students examine the changes in leg bones of mice that have been artificially selected in the laboratory for high levels of voluntary wheel running. Wheel running by laboratory rodents can be viewed as a model of human voluntary exercise or as a model of the daily movements that other animals exhibit in nature, so it has relevance for both applied and basic science. As the wheel-running behavior of the "High Runner" lines of mice has evolved across tens of generations, many other changes have also been observed in the mice, encompassing other behaviors, physiology, and morphology. Students develop hypotheses about how the thigh bones (femurs) of animals that are good runners might be different from those that are not (ordinary mice from non-selected control lines). They develop a protocol for testing their hypothesis by using digital photographs to measure the bones of selected and control animals (taken from generation 11), and then analyze their data to determine if their hypotheses were supported. The original middle-school lesson plan, including supporting resources, can be accessed here.
Dr. William E. Cooper has generously donated his PowerPoint lectures from a college course. We will convert these to an online format.
Brain to Run
This lesson, spearheaded by Dr. Zoe Thompson, previous Ph.D. student in Neuroscience at UCR, will have a general structure similar to Born to Run, but will instead focus on the brains of High Runner mice and how one might expect them to differ from ordinary mice. Digital photographs of histological preparations of mouse brains will be measured by students to test their hypotheses. This might also be extended by use of photos of histological preparations of brains from different species of mammals (http://brainmuseum.org/).
Choose or Lose: The Anti-Obesity App
Students will be introduced to the basic idea that simple choices they make in their day-to-day life will have huge (no pun intended) consequences for the rest of their life. What do they choose to eat? How do they choose to spend their spare time? How do they resist negative peer pressures?
Positive health outcomes will be promoted by conveying evidence-based information. For example,
What should you do to maintain a healthy lifestyle?
A. Exercise regularly.
B. Get plenty of sleep.
C. Restrict the amount of time watching TV, YouTube, playing video games,
and dealing with social media to no more than two hours per day.
D. Cultivate "healthy" friendships.
E. All of the above.
Controversial aspects of the obesity epidemic will also be addressed, such as whether obesity is a disease and the role of endocrine disruptors (e.g., some chemicals used for agriculture) in causing obesity.
Dr. Wendy Saltzman studies paternal care in the California mouse (Peromyscus californicus), with support from both the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. This lesson will convey information about the known consequences of fatherhood for fathers and their offspring, in non-human animals and in human beings.
Dr. Wendy Saltzman teaches the popular Hormones and Behavior course at UCR (Biology 178). She will likely lead the effort to bring some behavioral endocrinology into an online format. A lecture on Introduction to Behavioral Endocrinology is also available.
Dr. Nigel Hughes will spearhead this effort.
Drs. Fairbairn, Oufiero, and Roff study sexual selection in a range of organisms, including crickets, water striders, and swordtail fish. Their research techniques include archiving digital photographs for morphometric analyses, and these could easily be worked into an lesson, perhaps similar in structure to Born to Run.