Classroom Exercises Using Science Articles Written by Students

The Journal of Emerging Investigators (JEI) introduces young scientists to the skills they need to write publishable manuscripts. Additionally, these student-created research manuscripts can be brought back into the classroom as a teaching resource. JEI articles are written at a secondary school level and relate to themes that appeal to students, and we’ve worked hard to find ways to incorporate previously published JEI manuscripts into classroom tools.

JEI has developed lesson plans that use published manuscripts to not only teach students science, but also teach them about scientific reading, writing, and the publication process. We ask that teachers who use our resources briefly follow up with us at questions@emerginginvestigators.org to provide feedback on how the lesson plan was received in the classroom. We would like to know what went well, and what didn’t go so well, in order to continually improve our resources.

If you see a manuscript published on our website that you would like to use in your classroom, but do not see any teaching resources, JEI is happy to design a classroom exercise specifically tailored for your classroom. We are also more than happy to work with you to alter any currently available resources to better fit the needs of your classroom.

Introduction to Scientific Primary Literature

Keywords: N/A

Suggested Classes: Psychology, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics

This exercise introduces the concept of primary literature to students, describes peer review, and requires students to read through a JEI manuscript (appropriate for any manuscript; see Article Index). This exercise is targeted at early high school or even middle school students to familiarize them with how manuscripts are structured and where to find important information.

Biochemistry: Amino Acid Effects on Amylase Production

Liu et al. | May 10, 2016

Keywords: Enzymes, macromolecules, amino acids, transformation

Suggested Classes: Biology and AP biology

This paper addresses enzymes and macromolecules in the context of enzyme activity. While students are reminded of the major molecules of life in the introduction, the methods and results deal with activity assays for the amylase enzyme. Other topics of interest include transforming bacteria with exogenous DNA and bacterial colonies.

Biology: Alcohol and Endocrine Development

Payne et al. | Jan 15, 2014

Keywords: Development, diabetes, endocrine system

Suggested Classes: Biology, AP biology, Anatomy

This paper addresses the effects of alcohol on pancreatic ß-cell development. The methods section includes an emphasis on how the authors worked with zebrafish, their model organism of choice. This paper also gives students an opportunity to look at microscopy images collected by the authors.

Biology: Phylogenetic Analysis

Palermo et al. | Jan 24, 2014

Keywords: Evolution, genetics, bioinformatics

Suggested Classes: Biology, AP biology, Environmental Sciences

This paper addresses topics of bioinformatics through genetic analyses of trout in a lake. The authors sequence mitochondrial DNA of the fish and perform a sequence alignment to test for relatedness. This touches on the areas of evolution and genetics. The authors tackle the idea of alternative codon usage, a related, but distinct, topic.

Engineering: Biomimicry

Weitzman et al. | Dec 22, 2013

Keywords: Engineering, biology

Suggested Classes: Biology, Engineering

This paper addresses the question of how one can make helicopter blades more efficient. To answer this question, the authors turned to nature and were inspired by the bumps on the fins of whales, called tubercles. By replicating these tubercles on the blades of a R/C helicopter, the authors found that in this case, nature had come up with a means of being more efficient.

Environmental Science: Bird Feeding and Habitat Loss

Westrich et al. | Jul 16, 2016

Keywords: Habitat loss, climate change, statistics

Suggested Classes: Biology, Environmental Sciences, Statistics

This paper addresses the question of habitat preference for birds. This question was posed in the context of climate change, to see if changes in climate in addition to habitat loss could be detrimental. This paper also includes some basic statistics and an opportunity to critically analyze raw data.

Environmental Sciences: Bioremediation

Cao et al. | Jun 17, 2013

Keywords: Algae, oil spills

Suggested Classes: Environmental Science, Biology

This paper addresses how oil spills can be cleaned up by algae. The motivation of this paper was the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The authors tested various algal strains to see which would be best at cleaning up oil from the actual oil spill. This paper is a great example how living things around us can help fix the world.

Environmental Sciences: Ocean Acidification

Dojiri et al. | Aug 08, 2014

Keywords: Ocean acidification, oceanography, ecology, climate change

Suggested Classes: Environmental Sciences

This exercise addresses two papers that look at similar questions using different approaches. The authors in both papers look at the effects of ocean acidification on the growth and development of various aquatic species. Their overall goals are to assess the potential damage that CO2, which leads to ocean acidification, can do to aquatic habitats.

Physics: Viscosity and Surface Tension of Fluids

Wei et al. | Sep 16, 2014

Keywords: Fluid dynamics, force, intermolecular forces

Suggested Classes: Physics, AP Physics

This paper looks at correlations between the viscosity of a fluid and its surface tension. The authors describe a way in which they make solutions of varying viscosity. Once the solutions are made, they describe a way in which to test for the surface tension. In their analysis, they look to see if there is any sort of correlation between the two variables.

Psychology: Technology instruction in senior populations

Seides et al. | May 24, 2015

Keywords: Surveys, observational studies, learning preferences

Suggested Classes: Psychology or Statistics

This paper addresses how older adults prefer to learn how to use new technology. This is done using two methods: surveys administered to older adults and direct observations of older adults in an assisted living community. The analysis of the data requires some interpretation of statistical results and provides a glimpse into the preferred learning methods of older adults.

Analysis of Scientific Data (Physics)

Hu et al. | Jun 27, 2016

Keywords: Friction, Newton’s laws, forces

Suggested Classes: Physics or AP Physics

A follow-up analysis of the Coefficient of Friction paper allows students to derive on their own the equations for calculating the coefficient of kinetic friction in ‘the new way’. Then, with new equation in hand, students can reanalyze the experimentally gathered data to see if they are led to the same conclusions as the authors.

Reproducibility of Scientific Data (Physics)

Keywords: Friction, Newton’s laws, forces

Suggested Classes: Physics or AP Physics

A third activity involving the Coefficient of Friction paper allows students to use it as a starting point for designing and running their own experiments. Students are asked to reproduce the data and validate conclusions presented in the JEI published article.