Schenectady High School’s 2400 students are all learning remotely for the 2020-2021 school year. Creative minds in the science department decided that they needed ways to engage and excite their students. They came up with Science Fridays, which have been ongoing since the start of the school year.
Each Friday, the ninth-grade science teachers visit a location or offer a livestreamed science experiment and fit the trip into the curriculum as best they can. Because their students would miss out on the dissection lab that typically happens in ninth grade, the teachers did a livestream dissection for their students. They have visited an apiary, a llama farm, the Albany Pine Bush Preserve, and The Wild Center, among other places.
On March 26, Danielle Budlong and Jennifer Insull hit the road at 5 am and traveled up to Miner Institute for a Science Friday in our dairy barn. Research Scientist Dr. Sarah Morrison talked to Budlong and Insull and their students at home about how we use cannulated cows in our research program. Both teachers were able to reach into the cow’s rumen. Budlong informed her students that it felt warm and that she could feel the stomach contracting and could feel the rumen lining, which has a shag carpet-like texture.
Dr. Morrison squeezed some rumen fluid into a small beaker and placed some on a slide under a microscope so that the students could see the bacteria and protozoa that are active in the rumen and are critical to the cow’s digestion and overall health. She also discussed how cows are great recyclers and are able to consume by-products that would otherwise be discarded such as beet pulp, a by-product of the sugar beet industry.
“We had a blast,” Budlong said. “The kids from our live stream could not stop talking about it in their other classes.”
We were thrilled to be able to offer this unique educational experience to students in the Capital Region, more than two hours away!