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Allison Baas

Exploring changes in genes and phenotypes of local wildlife populations

2019 STEM Scholar
Laramie, WY Laramie Middle School

Allison’s Big Idea: Allison’s students will explore how external influences lead to genotypic and phenotypic changes in local wildlife populations. Specifically, they will investigate how hatcheries and fish hybridization affect native cutthroat trout, how transplanting bighorn sheep develops new herds, and how game farms affect native big game populations. Using DNA sequencing, protein assays, GIS/remote sensing, and computer modeling, they will learn how genetic traits change over time in local wildlife. They will also discuss how these changes can pose a problem to wildlife and propose solutions.

Interesting facts:  Allison enjoys lessons driven by storylines and phenomena that are student-centered, inquiry-based, and 3 dimensional engage students. Her most recent favorite revolved around the phenomena “Life in Outer Space”. The lesson was to analyze two samples of extracted soil from two planets (an ice planet and a liquid planet) to determine if there were cells (Eukaryotic or Prokaryotic) living on either planet. The standards addressed include content on living and nonliving characteristics, cell types, cell theory, and cell structure and function. Science and Engineering Practices were intertwined in this lesson including; planning and carrying out the investigation, construction explanations and engaging in argument from evidence. Crosscutting Concepts included cause and effect, scale, proportion and quantity, structure and function, and systems. Students work in a Team-Based Learning environment with a blended-learning class, where they begin with research on cells, cell types, through a 4-S question strategy that incorporates the ideas from the previous lesson on biochemistry. They develop strategies as a team to analyze the samples, carry out the procedures, collect the images or diagrams they needed and then construct explanations about the planet with findings of potential life using a connection to extremophiles that exist in our biosphere.

In her own words: "I am a doctoral student in Science Education at the University of Wyoming. Our family is very linked to the outdoors and we love our wide-open spaces. I am a volunteer for many research projects and have enjoyed working for and volunteering with local nonprofit, state and federal agencies on local ecological issues."