GEAR UP Wyoming at Van Andel Institute

“How many heartbeats per minute?”

In a science experiment with the small planktonic crustacean Daphnia Magna at the Van Andel Education Institute yesterday, Godwin Heights juniors used clickers and timers to quantify heartrates of the clear carapace often seen as a water quality indicator.

The Godwin juniors then dropped adrenaline, caffeine, or sugar into the small sauce cups where Daphnia were swimming and placed them under microscopes again to check heart rates.

VAEI Instructor Cory Kavanagh led the student scientists through a comparative analysis to see if results lined up with predictions and to discuss implications for human health.

After the experiment, the Godwin Heights science class walked up the hill to the Van Andel Institute for a chat with research scientist Richard Cassidy who investigates arsenic exposure to cells.

“Arsenic in well water is a significant issue in Michigan,” noted Cassidy, a doctoral student who completed his undergraduate degree at Creighton University in Omaha.

When asked by a student about lab success rates, Cassidy said “nine out of ten times” experiments fail, but the data remain valuable. On days when he is not doing lab work, Cassidy added that he writes grant proposals to fund more experiments.

The GEAR UP cohort finished their visit to the hill with a lunch of chicken tenders and fries at GRCC’s Raider Grill.

In its fifth and penultimate year, the GRCC GEAR UP Wyoming grant provides career exploration, college visits, and academic support to the Class of 2024 at Godwin Heights, Godfrey Lee, Kelloggsville, and Wyoming.

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