We’re now 30+ hours into growth curves in BIOL 3410 Microbiology. Students started at 8:30 am yesterday and made measurements every two hours until 8:30 last night. We resumed this morning at 8:30 and will take a 36-hour measurement at 8:30 tonight. Our final measurement will be at 8:30 tomorrow morning.
What are my students learning from this? First, they are learning that science doesn’t occur in convenient 2-3 hour blocks of time. Second, they are learning that the thought and planning BEFORE beginning your work will help maximize the usefulness of the data obtained. They are learning that the informal time spent together while collecting data can be very enjoyable. I learned about my students and they learned something about me as we spent time together through the day. When I returned from playing basketball, all hot and sweaty, they found I was not a sterile, stuffy professor who has no life. Finally, I’m hoping their time spent doing this work will teach them a little microbiology.
Our experimental design has eliminated the opportunity to “cook the books” with falsified data. Their data collection compares bacteria in their own home-made media, while their final product will be a comparison of home-made media for the growth of their own bacteria. We’ll see how this plays out!