Schuyler van Montfrans participates in 2016 NSF RET in the Hopkins Lab

The Hopkins lab was pleased to host Schuyler van Montfrans, a high school biology teacher at William Fleming High School, to participate in the the RET (Research Experience for Teachers) program this summer. This program, funded by the National Science Foundation, gives local teachers the opportunity to be immersed in original research, as well as a way to bring it back to the classroom. After participating in this program last year, we are happy to announce that this year has been another success!

Schuyler worked with graduate student, Sydney Hope, to study how incubation temperature and social factors affect an interesting wood duck duckling behavior: nest exodus. Shortly after wood ducks hatch, they must climb out of their nest cavity and jump out of the nest, or else they may be left behind by their mother. Schuyler analyzed behavioral videos to determine if incubation temperature and the social environment affected this crucial behavior.

A unique aspect of the RET program is that teachers also develop an educational module that they can bring back to their school. Inspired by his research, Schuyler has decided to hatch chickens in his classroom this year so his students can conduct simple experiments to determine if aspects of chick behavior and physiology differ due to incubation temperature.

Schuyler ended the RET program by giving an excellent oral presentation, filled with entertaining videos of ducklings, at the Virginia Tech Summer Research Symposium.

We are not cutting our ties just because the summer is over! Sydney will be visiting Schuyler’s classroom this year to talk to his students and help out with his educational module. We are very excited to participate in this opportunity to bridge the gap between research universities and K-12 schools.