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Abstract Detail

Teaching Section

Valente, Matthew J. [1], Lewis, Daniel B. [2], Horn, Sally P. [1].

Pollen trapping as a tool for introducing middle school students to pollen analysis for paleoenvironmental reconstruction.

The analysis of pollen grains in sediment profiles has provided valuable data for reconstructing vegetation and climate of the past. Here we show how pollen trapping can be used as a tool for teaching middle school students about long-term environmental change. Graduate students worked cooperatively with teacher-partners in two east Tennessee middle schools as part of the NSF GK-12 Earth Project at the University of Tennessee. In the middle school classroom, students were introduced to pollen morphology through short lectures illustrated with photographs and projected images of pollen grains. The students were excited to draw and learn to identify common local pollen types. Research-grade Tauber pollen traps were deployed in schoolyards and on the campus of the University of Tennessee in March-April 2008 to catch early Spring pollen rain. The traps were filled with a 5mM CuSO4 glycerol solution, a safer alternative to volatile organics typically used, to prevent algal and fungal growth. After collecting pollen for 2 weeks, the samples will be centrifuged, acetolysed, and stained in our research laboratory. Students will identify pollen types on microscope slides from images projected using a digital camera. The tabulation of common pollen types and the comparison of samples from traps in different locations will be used as a jumping off point to introduce the students to pollen records from lakes in Tennessee and adjacent states that reveal dramatically different pollen assemblages during the last glacial interval. By starting our lesson on paleoenvironmental change with hands-on activities related to modern pollen, our students will better appreciate the nature of the evidence of vegetation and climate change in the eastern U.S. provided by ancient pollen grains in sediments. We encourage other researchers to consider outreach activities related to pollen analysis and can offer suggestions for building pollen traps from simple materials.

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Related Links:
NSF GK-12 Earth Project at the University of Tennessee

1 - University of Tennessee, Department of Geography, 304 Burchfiel Geography Building, Knoxville, TN, 37996-0925, USA
2 - University of Tennessee, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, 306 Earth and Planetary Sciences, 1412 Circle Drive, Knoxville, TN, 37996-1410, USA


Presentation Type: Poster:Posters for Sections
Session: P
Location: Ball Room & Party Room/SUB
Date: Monday, July 28th, 2008
Time: 12:30 PM
Number: PTS003
Abstract ID:389

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