Christiansburg students study mold movement
In 1958, Steve McQueen and a cast of “exciting young people” attempted to solve the mystery of a gigantic mass in “The Blob.”
More than 50 years later, Joni King’s seventh-grade students at Christiansburg Middle School faced a similar task thanks to the Fralin Life Science Institute at Virginia Tech’s Biotech in a Box program.
The program has been loaning kits of science equipment to classrooms across the commonwealth since 1994. The box sent to King’s classroom was titled “Caging the Blob” and was equipped with the supplies necessary for the students to set up an experiment and study the survival tactics of slime mold.
“It’s gross, but gross is fun,” said student Sydney Dublin.
Unlike the 1958 film, King’s students had little fear of being eaten by their “blobs,” but they were tasked with hypothesizing which direction the mold would grow to find food.
Each group of three or four students designed and built a Lego maze inside a petri dish. They then placed the slime mold, along with three oatmeal flakes, in the dish and predicted the route the mold would grow to reach the food.
The experiment was held in conjunction with the class’s study of living organisms, and King said she believed such hands-on experiences helped her students make a connection with their class notes and the subject matter.
Because King’s students were at what she called a very social age, she thought they enjoyed the opportunity to interact with their peers, as well as getting to see the firsthand results of the experiment.
Student Daniel McKinney confirmed his teacher’s thoughts.
“It’s cool when you get to do experiments and test things out,” McKinney said.
The Roanoke Times | 381-1643
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