Research Experiences for Teachers – Past Projects

Jocelyn Virtudes, Independence School #1 – 2012-2013

Ms. Virtudes, a science teacher at Independence School Local 1 in Baltimore City, conducted research with mentor scientist Ken Belt, (USDA Forest Service). Her research focused on micro storm water management best practices. Ms. Virtudes spent six week during the summer of 2012 conducting infiltration measurements in micro-storm water management facilities through out Baltimore City. These facilities included curb bump outs and rain gardens in some of the most impervious neighborhoods in the City. She also conducted a survey of educators on their current practices and interests in using micro storm water management facilities to teach science and other concepts.

Dana Riskalla, North Harford High – 2011-2012

Ms. Riskalla, a science teacher at North Harford High School, conducted research with mentor scientist, Dr. Vanessa Beauchamp (Towson University). Her research took place for six weeks during summer 2011 at locations in Patapsco State Park and throughout the Baltimore metropolitan region. Her research focused on the identification of wavy leaf basket grass, a common stream-side invasive species.

Mark Kather, Western School of Technology and Environmental Science – 2011-2012

Mr. Kather, a science teacher at Western School of Technology, conducted research with mentor scientist, Dr. Andrew Miller, (BES & University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)). His research took place for six weeks during summer 2011 at UMBC. His research focused on analyzing land use impacts on stream flow using Geographic Information Systems.

Shanshivani Rajendran, Paul Laurence Dunbar Senior High – 2011-2012

Mr. Rajendran, a science teacher at Dunbar High School, is conducting research with mentor scientist, Dr. Alan Berkowitz, (BES & The Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies)). His research focuses on the ability of professional development programs to increase teacher self-efficacy.

Lauren Catts, Sandy Plains Elementary School – 2011 – 2012

Ms. Catts, an elementary school teacher at Sandy Plains Elementary School, conducted research with mentor scientist, Dan Boward, (Maryland Department of Natural Resources). Her research took place for six weeks during summer 2011 at the Department of natural Resources in Annapolis, Maryland. Her research focused on using stream macroinvertebrate communities as a bioindicator of stream health.

Tia Bossiwa, Coppin Academy – 2011 – 2012

Ms. Bossiwa, a science teacher at Coppin Academy,conducted research with mentor scientist Ken Belt, (USDA Forest Service). Her research focused on feeding habitats of aquatic organisms in streams. Ms. Bossiwa placed leaf packs in streams through the Baltimore region and after a period of a few weeks, dissected the leaf packs and identified macrointervetebrates found within. She learned how to make connections between macroinvertebrate species found in streams and the overall water quality of the stream.

Kathy Kingsley, Owings Mills High School – 2010-2011

Ms. Kingsley, a science teacher at Owings Mills High School, conducted research with mentor scientist, Dan Dillon (Baltimore Ecosystem Study & Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies). Her research took place for six weeks during summer 2010 at UMBC. Her research focused on stream chemistry data comparisons across multiple stream sites within the Gwynns Falls watershed. Ms. Kingsley accompanied Dan Dillon on weekly field work outings to the core BES stream sites where Kathy learned protocols for collected water quality samples. Back in the lab, Ms. Kingsley assisted in the analysis of the water samples.

Ralph Causarano, Franklin High School – 2010-2011

Mr. Causarano, a science teacher at Franklin Middle School, conducted research with mentor scientist, Dr. Andrew Miller, (BES & University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)). His research took place for six weeks during summer 2010 at UMBC. His research focused on land use impacts on stream flow in the Dead Run subwatershed of the Gwynns Falls watershed.

Evelyn Sharkey, Northwestern High School, 2010-2011

Ms. Sharkey, a science teacher at Northwestern High School, conducted research with mentor scientist, Dr. Chris Swan, (BES & University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)). Her research took place for six weeks during summer 2010 at UMBC. Her research focused on the impacts of increased salinity on leaf litter respiration.

Kate McLean, General Stricker Middle School, 2010-2011

Ms. McLean, a science teacher at General Stricker Middle School, conducted research with mentor scientist, Dr. Neil Bettez, (Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies). Her research took place for six weeks during summer 2010 at UMBC. Her research focused on nitrogen deposition along the urban to rural gradient of the Gwynns Falls watershed.

Richard Foot, Dundalk High School – 2009-2010

Mr. Foot, a science teacher at Dundalk High School, conducted research with mentor scientist, Dr. Andrew Miller, (BES & University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)). His research took place for six weeks during summer 2009 at UMBC. His research focused on comparisons of stream flow data for multiple storm events across selected stations in the BES region, to determine trends in time of rise, peak and drop in water levels. Mr. Foot also assisted Dr. Miller in researching the geology, flora and water chemistry of the Horsehead Branch (HH), to determine if HH can be considered as a secondary “semi-pristine” site for the BES stream study. Mr. Foot hopes to introduce his students to stream sampling techniques used by BES. From September 2009 to April 2010, selected Baltimore County high school students from Mr. Foot’s classes would accompany Dan Dillon on a monthly basis for collection of samples at selected BES sites.

Carla Guarraia, St. Paul School for Girls – 2009-2010

Ms. Guarraia, a science teacher at St. Paul School for Girls, conducted research with mentor scientist, Dr. Kenneth Belt (BES & USDA, Forest Service). Her research took place for six weeks during the summer 2009 at UMBC. Ms. Guarraia’s research focused on learning sampling techniques for the Urban Forest Effects Model (UFORE). She worked closely with Dr. Belt, Mr. Ian Yesilonis (USDA, Forest Service) and UMBC graduate student Yvette Williams to learn how to set up permanent UFORE plots, sample the plots and input and analyze the data in the UFORE model. She then set up UFORE sampling plots at her school with the intention of teaching her students how to sample these plots, and collect data for use in the UFORE model. Additionally, she developed curriculum that incorporates both UFORE sampling and ecology research methods for three courses she planned to teach the following fall.

Tom Keller, Hereford High School – 2009-2010

Mr. Keller, a science teacher at Hereford High School, conducted research with mentor scientist, Dr. Chris Swann (BES & UMBC). His research took place for six weeks during the summer 2009 at UMBC. Mr. Keller’s conducted two research projects this summer. The first project was a small, manageable laboratory macroinvertebrate feeding study comparing the ash leaf litter eating capacity of two common shredders, amphipoda and trichoptera. Mr. Keller plans to translate this project, designed to be completed within 4-5 weeks, into his classroom, emphasizing both ecological concepts and experimental design. The other project Mr. Keller conducted is a longer-term field study in which he assisted a graduate student, in monitoring the benthic macroinvertebrate assemblages at three stream types; reference, disturbed, and restored sites (those which have had habitat improvement restoration at least 5-10 years ago). This study is intended to provide useful information about overall ecosystem function and ultimately indicate the success of the restoration efforts from several years ago.

Laura Dailey, Deer Park Middle School – 2009-2010

Ms. Dailey, a science teacher at Deer Park Middle School, conducted research with mentor scientist Dr. Roland Roberts (Towson University). Ms. Dailey assisted a graduate student studying chocolate varieties from Trinidad. She performed DNA extraction and purification, followed by gel electrophoresis, on each sample. Polymerase Chain Reaction was then used to amplify sections of the DNA that control flavor of the bean or resistance to fungi and disease. Additionally, Ms. Dailey expanded her interest in plant ecology by assisting UMBC graduate student Yvette Williams and Cary Institute of Ecosystem Study summer Research Experience for Undergraduate Erica Tauzer in sampling vacant plot vegetation. During her summer experience, Ms. Dailey learned plant id, techniques for setting up permanent vegetation plots and studied extensively the geology of the physiographic province in which her school is located. Ms. Dailey plans to take this experience and use her new found knowledge to develop her school’s courtyard into a native plant garden. She plans to start an environmental science after school club to assist with the design, implementation and long term study of the native plant courtyard.

Karen (Rennie) Watson, Doris M. Johnson School – 2006-2007

Karen (Rennie) Watson conducted her research at Clifton Park, a 263 acre Baltimore City Park, in which her school, Doris M. Johnson, an Expeditionary Learning High School is physically located.

Ms. Watson worked with USDA Forest Service Forest Ecologist Dr. Richard Pouyat, a BES Co-Investigator based in Baltimore at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Sharon Schueler, Community Forrester, Office of Park Conservation and Community Outreach, Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks, and BES Education Coordinator Janie Gordon. During summer 2006, Watson conducted an Entitation survey in Clifton Park (Entitation, a method of land classification for urban parklands, was piloted by Dr. Pouyat and colleagues in New York City.) Its purpose is to delineate discrete vegetation units and detailed representations of spatial vegetation patterns.