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High-school students spend an afternoon as college science students

The students participated in the Nottingham Early College High School Biology Apprenticeship

Mar 8, 2012 — Article by: Judy Holmes

Student examines zebrafish

Susan Parks, assistant professor of biology, helps Nottingham student Hussein Musa identify genetic mutations in zebrafish.

How does one tell a male zebrafish from a female zebrafish? That was one of the tasks for 15, 9th- and 10th-grade students from Nottingham High School who were introduced to college-level developmental biology and genetics during a recent visit to Syracuse University's Life Sciences Complex. The March 1 visit was part of Nottingham's Early College High School initiative, a collaborative project of the Syracuse City School District, Say Yes to Education, and SU's School of Education funded by a grant from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

The Early College High School Biology Apprenticeship event was hosted by the Department of Biology in The College of Arts and Sciences. After touring the Life Sciences Complex, the students listened to Katharine Lewis, associate professor of biology and event coordinator, explain how and why zebrafish and chicken embryos are used as model species for understanding early development in humans. They then conducted some of the same laboratory exercises done by Lewis' undergraduate students. In addition to identifying male and female zebrafish, the students learned to identify normal adult pigment and fin phenotypes, mutated adult phenotypes, and they examined normal and abnormal fish embryos.

Assisting Lewis and the high-school students were Scott Erdman, associate professor and associate chair of the department who conducted the tour of the Life Sciences Complex, as well as several other biology faculty members and undergraduate and graduate students.

Students examine chicken embryos Students from Nottingham High School examine chicken embryos with Elizabeth Droge-Young, a biology department Ph.D. candidate (center). Pictured on the left are Medina Musa and Patience Seton. On the right is Ninimbe Mitchell.
Students examine adult zebrafish Junior biology major Sofia Pezoa (far left) helps Nottingham students differentiate  male and female zebrafish. The students are (from center) Lais Hernandez, Nickoy Allen, and Siney Gallardo

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Judy Holmes