Students study bacteria at science camp
“These are not kits — ‘canned’ experiments with predetermined outcomes.” DENNIS FRISBY A BIOLOGY PROFESSOR AT CAMERON
Serious science sometimes starts with poop.
Students going into the eighth through 10th grades from all around Oklahoma took part in Cameron University's Science Detectives Summer Academy this week, where they are helping with real research into the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria from agricultural cattle populations to wild bison and longhorn populations at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.
"These are not kits 'canned' experiments with predetermined outcomes," said camp co-director Dennis Frisby, a biology professor at Cameron.
He said the campers are engaged in actual research that he and his wife, camp co-director and fellow biology professor Tahzeeba Frisby, have been working on for about six years. The camp has been having students help with the research for about four years.
The campers started out their week at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, where they gathered samples of fecal matter left by longhorns and bison, along with water samples from places where those animals often drink in the refuge. They also gathered similar samples from a nearby ranch's cattle population and stock ponds.
From that humble beginning, the students learned about the scientific process by preparing the samples, then using them over the next few days for complete analysis to learn whether or not strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria often found in commercial cattle populations have migrated to the wild populations at the refuge.
Commercial cattle populations are often given antibiotics, which can lead to the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
On Tuesday they also had a tour of Comanche County Memorial Hospital, where they learned about health sciences professions.
At the end of the week, the campers worked together in groups to make college-level presentations about their findings.