Field Research

The field research module combines field collection, cell culture, molecular biology (in the form of DNA isolation, PCR, DNA sequencing), and bioinformatics within one extended lab. It involves field collection of local Tetrahymena species, isolation of DNA from wild caught cells or unknown Tetrahymena strains (isolated from known locations) provided by the Tetrahymena Stock Center, PCR amplification of fragments for sequencing and bioinformatic analysis, bar coding, and examination of genetic diversity. Students have an opportunity to publish their results on the ASSET website, where information regarding all the Tetrahymena species identified around the country will be made available. Sequence data will permit them to identify the Tetrahymena species collected and place it on a phylogenetic tree. Ultimately, the information collected by students performing this module will be fed into a larger database that will provide an overview of genetic variation among natural populations of Tetrahymena thermophila. Students will be able to track this data as it is collected from remote sites. The lab gives students an opportunity to be part of an ongoing research project and strengthens their understanding of the scientific process.

Module Protocols

Middle/High School

Glossary of Terms

Relevant Concepts

Science as a Process; Evolution; Continuity and Change; Interdependence in Nature; Molecular Genetics; Diversity of Organisms; Species Variation.

Next Generation Science Standards Relationships

High School:  |

Middle School: | | |

NYS Science Curriculum Guideline Relationships

Key Ideas | | | | | |

Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the structure of DNA determines the structure of proteins which carry out the essential functions of life through systems of specialized cells.
Ask questions to clarify relationships about the role of DNA and chromosomes in coding the instructions for characteristic traits passed from parents to offspring.
Communicate scientific information that common ancestry and biological evolution are supported by multiple lines of empirical evidence.
Conduct an investigation to provide evidence that living things are made of cells, either one cell or many different numbers and types of cells.
Develop and use a model to describe the function of a cell as a whole and ways parts of cells contribute to the function.
Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how environmental and genetic factors influence the growth of organisms.
Evaluate competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services.
Develop and use a model to describe why structural changes to genes (mutations) located on chromosomes may affect proteins and may result in harmful, beneficial, or neutral effects to the structure and function of the organism.
Construct an explanation based on evidence that describes how genetic variations of traits in a population increase some individuals’ probability of surviving and reproducing in a specific environment.
Gather and synthesize information about the technologies that have changed the way humans influence the inheritance of desired traits in organisms.
The central purpose of scientific inquiry is to develop explanations of natural phenomena in a continuing and creative process.
Beyond the use of reasoning and consensus, scientific inquiry involves the testing of proposed explanations.
The observations made while testing proposed explanations, when analyzed using conventional and invented methods, provide new insights into natural phenomena.
Living things are both similar to and different from each other and from nonliving things.
Organisms inherit genetic information in a variety of ways that result in continuity of structure and function between parents and offspring.
Individual organisms and species change over time.
The continuity of life is sustained through reproduction and development.