Junior Innovation Lab @Ross Biodiversity Marathon

DSC_5706_Sm On May 6, sixth and seventh graders in the Junior Innovation Lab @Ross kicked off the Biodiversity Marathon, a new six-week program for students interested in marine biology, environmental science, and issues of global sustainability.

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Led by Dr. Dave Morgan, dean of Science and director of Innovation Lab @Ross, the students conducted on-site research at Two Holes Pond, Sagg Main Beach, and Northwest Harbor to collect, identify, and document marine life using biocubes—frames that measure one cubic foot of space in the waters or soil.

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Their finds have included tadpoles, jellyfish, shrimp, and snails, as well as myriad microscopic organisms only discovered when the students returned to the lab with their specimens.

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The program is an outgrowth of the Ross School Field Academy activities in Mo’orea during the 2014 Midwinter Term, where students studied with marine scientists at the Gump South Pacific Research Station. Like their older schoolmates, Junior Innovation Lab students in this new course have the opportunity to work side by side with guest experts as they develop the skills to gather and identify specimens, and learn the techniques to document their discoveries through photography and video.

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During the week of June 16, photographer David Liittschwager, a photographer who has used the biocube method of study extensively, will visit the Junior Innovation Lab to speak with students about their recent collections. David was on site in Mo’orea with the Ross M-Term class as part of a National Geographic and Smithsonian team, and he will share his experiences with the Junior Lab students.

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“The biocube approach is an interesting way to help people visualize biodiversity, and it really forced students to look more closely at the diverse life forms hiding in their own local environments on the East End. We’re looking forward to David’s perspective on our finds,” Dr. Morgan said.