Grants expand lab experience at St. Andrews
Laurinburg, N.C. – On a warm summer’s day, students huddled around one of the iMac computers coupled with a microscope and Ken-A-Vision software to capture and measure specimen images in the John Blue Lab at St. Andrews University. Nearby another group of students used another iMac station, this one with probeware to measure oxygen, carbon dioxide, temperature and other parameters related to enzymes, cellular respiration and photosynthesis.
Dr. Bonnie Draper, assistant professor of biology, smiled as she explained the various experiments that will be done on this equipment when the Concepts in Biology I class begins this fall to the administrators and faculty participating in the science center’s summer open house.
“Their semester long project will consist of a micro-ecosystem containing plants and microscopic organisms,” Draper said. “Students will study how different treatments will affect this ecosystem, or pond in a jar, using the new equipment.
“They will be able to take the handheld devices into the field, store the data, and then upload it to their previous research,” she added. “The grunt work will be done for the student. They just have to do the thinking and analysis.”
The new equipment to support the laboratory was purchased with funds from the Golden LEAF and Reynolds Foundation grants. The equipment consists of 12 iMac computers, probeware and interfaces from Vernier Corporation and Ken-A-Vision image capture and analytics equipment. In addition to working with biology labs, the equipment can be utilized in physics and chemistry classes as well.
“This equipment will modernize an experiment that we have been doing for more than 30 years,” said Allen Dotson, professor of math and physics Emeritus, before working with the special group of students with the specific experiment comparing experimental and theoretical values based on speed and mass.
Working through the different stations, President Paul Baldasare saw clear benefits to the upgraded lab equipment and related experiments.
“This all helps the student visually understand the relationships in the experiments,” he said. “The students will have the data in a clear format to be able to do their own analysis for a deeper understanding.”
Draper agrees, “Many of the students will have done some of the experiments in different settings but they will not have taken it to this level of detail and analysis.”
Dr. John Knesel, associate professor of biology, co-authored the laboratory manual being used in the class, Principles of Biology I Laboratory Manual Sixth Edition, with Dr. Thomas Sasek and Mr. Dennis Bell from the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
“This equipment is portable and powerful,” he said. “It can be used in any class you can imagine.”
Knesel is also going to be utilizing one of the benefits of the liberal arts setting in some of the biology classes related to the use of the one articulated and five disarticulated skeletons, three model arms and 4 model legs.
“These are made of a hard plastic and are cast to really see the structure,” Knesel said. “With the legs and arms, you can take them apart to give a real hands on benefit to the students in order to see how it all fits together. We will be bringing over (Professor of Art) Stephanie McDavid to show the students how to draw the bones and the legs. And we will bring over the art students to benefit from the experience.”
As additional equipment is added, expansion of the science lab experience for the pre-vet, equine science and therapeutic horsemanship areas are anticipated.
For more information about the science program at St. Andrews, become a fan of St. Andrews Science Homecoming on Facebook.
About St. Andrews University
St. Andrews is a student and teaching-focused University which offers a broad range of undergraduate majors in a curriculum that is global in scope and practical in its application. St. Andrews has added a first graduate level program with a Masters in Business Administration. The quality of the St. Andrews educational experience has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and GI Jobs among others. In addition to its academic programs, the University has an acclaimed university press, men’s and women’s athletic teams, a nationally competitive equestrian program, and an award-winning pipe band. St. Andrews is a branch of Webber International University, Florida. Further information may be obtained by visiting the University’s website www.sapc.edu, calling 800-763-0198, or sending an e-mail to email@example.com.