Zerbafish Research Benefits K-12 Education
January 9, 2013

K-12 Students Get Zebrafish Research Published In Journal

Brett Smith for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

Scientific journal publisher Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., leveraging the popularity of zebrafish among school children, announced a special edition of their peer-reviewed journal Zebrafish highlighting several scientific studies submitted by young researchers.

"The emphasis is on teaching students how to think, rather than on what to think," said Stephen Ekker, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of Zebrafish and Professor of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. "This issue will have a substantial impact well beyond the zebrafish community."

The studies in the special edition are consistent with the usual quality of the respected journal and cover a wide range of topics.

In one of the studies in the special edition, high school senior Angela Moynan from Cloquet Senior High School in Cloquet, Minn. investigated the degradation of ibuprofen and other dissolved organic solids found in the fish ecosystems of Lake Superior and the St. Louis River. Along with her science teacher, Cynthia Welsh, Moynan tested three different concentrations of dissolved ibuprofen in river, lake and distilled water.

All samples and concentration were exposed to UV light over a three-day period. After comparing the test group to a control group the two researchers found that UV light had very different effects on the different concentrations of dissolved organic material, increasing the concentration of some test samples and decreasing it in others.

Another study was co-authored by Catie Philpott, currently an 8th grade student at Lincoln K—8 Choice School in Rochester, Minn. Along with her science teacher Corey Dornack and Margot Cousin, a graduate student with the Center for Translational Science at the Mayo Clinic, Philpott looked into how the sex and age of a zebrafish can influence its locomotion.

The group´s reasoning in choosing this topic is that scientific studies on mice typically note the sex and age of each test subject, as these factors can influence a number of behaviors. They found these factors could also have an effect on zebrafish locomotion.

According to the study, age was found to be a significant factor. As one might expect, the fish tend to show less base level locomotion as they age.

The sex of each fish also played a role within a certain age group as younger zebrafish showed more locomotion in males; while older, female zebrafish showed more movement than older males. The research team concluded that future studies using zebrafish could set controls for age and sex within their experimental design and report these factors in the methods section of their reports.

The issue also featured a group of abstracts based on student-teacher presentations at the 10th International Conference on Zebrafish Development and Genetics held in Madison, Wis. in June 2012. Many of these abstracts are expected to become full research papers in 2013.

The topics of these abstracts were wide-ranging and focused on both actual research and educational methods for using research to teach science. Some of the educational abstracts focused on the roles of teachers and administrators, while others dealt with improving the students learning and experience in the scientific classroom.