Two SMU students recently spent a day introducing third graders at Dallas' Lipscomb Elementary School to the life cycle of sea urchins as part of their school science class.
Natalie Kashefi of Plano and Sara Gingrich of St. Louis, both undergraduates majoring in biology, volunteered for a day, helping the young students see the fertilization, cell division and growth of the sea creatures. The students got to hold sea urchins and inject them with a salt water solution, as well as watch cells divide through high-powered microscopes provided by SMU.
Accompanying Kashefi and Gingrich was SMU Provost Paul Ludden, vice president for Academic Affairs and professor of Biological Sciences. He has been facilitating such volunteer efforts at local schools for 18 years, since his own daughter was in third grade.
"This is an incredible exercise for third-graders, they are completely unbiased about the process of cell division and yet they ask perceptive questions and begin to develop hypotheses. We always learn something from the students when we study sea urchins with them," Dr. Ludden said.
Lipscomb Principal Yolanda Gonzalaz and her Third Grade Team of teachers — Ruby Garza, Kim Saucedo, Miriam Rodriguez, Lisa Wright and Kent Smith — worked with the SMU team to make it an exciting day for the students. Also visiting the class were David Chard, dean of The Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, and Provost Ludden’s wife, Linda, as well as several parents of Lipscomb School students.
In the coming weeks, Kashefi, Gingrich and Ludden expect to spend time teaching science at other elementary schools in the Dallas area.
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