Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Teacher sent long-distance science lessons to Tampa

EAST TAMPA — Lockhart Elementary Magnet School fifth-graders gathered in front of a LCD projector screen on a recent Friday morning for a "live from the field" Web conference with school science resource teacher Jane Kemp.

She appeared on the screen and spoke of her expedition from inside a bunkhouse in Cherry Hill, Nova Scotia.

Outside the bunkhouse, yellow, orange and red leaves bespeak autumn in a little Atlantic coast town famous for its lobsters.

Kemp, 52, was awarded a fellowship through Earthwatch Institute to travel to Canada and gather data on native mammal populations to determine the impact of climate change.

Earthwatch Institute is a nonprofit organization that recruits environmental volunteers and places them in scientific field research projects around the world.

"The purpose of the expedition was to count mammals, specifically small mammals, to see if the bottom of the food chain is still healthy in that area," Kemp said. "Due to climate change, winters are coming later and later and some of the animals are being affected by that."

For instance, mammals may remain in the reproductive stage in late October because of unusually high temperatures. They may not forage before the hibernation cycle; thus, they may not survive the winter.

The snowshoe hare, whose fur turns white in winter and rusty brown in summer for camouflage, is now more exposed to predators because its fur turns white even if the first snowflake has not yet fallen.

Kemp worked with a team of 13 volunteers from the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom led by research associates with the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at Oxford University in England.

The team used small traps to collect voles, mice and lemmings and record species, gender, age and weight at Cook's Lake, Nova Scotia, from Oct. 11 to 25.

They also looked for field signs such as animal droppings to determine if there was a stable population of larger mammals.

"I wouldn't say expert but I am much more informed about poop that I was before," she said.

After the two weeks, the team observed that although there was a healthy population of voles, the mice population had declined.

"It implies that something is having some sort of impact," said Kemp.

Back in Tampa, her students followed her every move through a blog and Web conferences.

"The students were very interested," said fifth-grade science and math teacher Nanci Loria, 40, who incorporated Kemp's expedition in her lessons.

She said students gained from the experience. They checked the blog daily and looked up animals they did not know.

"It was really a great experience for the kids to be able to see somebody that they know and work with everyday doing real science," said Kemp.

She will apply her experience in Nova Scotia at the school in East Tampa.

She will soon start a project with her students to collect field signs to calculate the population of small animals, such as squirrels, rats and raccoons within the neighborhood. She will install a camera trap that detects motion to record nocturnal animals and will look for animal droppings as she did during her expedition.

She said students seem to be particularly excited about the latter.

Teacher sent long-distance science lessons to Tampa 11/13/08 [Last modified: Thursday, November 13, 2008 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pitching on no rest backfires for Erasmo Ramirez, Rays

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — After battling through a 61/2-hour affair Sunday in Minnesota that was the second-longest game in franchise history, Rays officials were quick to decide that even though Erasmo Ramirez had just worked the 15th and final inning, they would stick with him to start Monday's game in Texas.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers, comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.
  2. Britain investigating missed signals over Manchester bomber


    LONDON — Britain's domestic intelligence agency, MI5, is investigating its response to warnings from the public about the threat posed by Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber who killed 22 people and wounded dozens more in an attack at a crowded Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, last week.

    People gather Monday at St. Ann’s Square in Manchester, England, to view tributes to victims of the suicide bombing that killed 22 on May 22 as a concert by Ariana Grande was concluding.
  3. Trump condemns killing of pair who tried to stop racist rant


    The mayor of Portland, Ore., on Monday urged U.S. officials and organizers to cancel a "Trump Free Speech Rally" and other similar events, saying they are inappropriate and could be dangerous after two men were stabbed to death on a train as they tried to help a pair of young women targeted by an anti-Muslim tirade.

    Coco Douglas, 8, leaves a handmade sign and rocks she painted at a memorial in Portland, Ore., on Saturday for two bystanders who were stabbed to death Friday while trying to stop a man who was yelling anti-Muslim slurs and acting aggressively toward two young women. From left are Coco's brother, Desmond Douglas; her father, Christopher Douglas; and her stepmother, Angel Sauls. [Associated Press]
  4. What major sporting event could Tampa Bay land next?

    Lightning Strikes

    We are on quite a roll as a community. First, we had a Super Bowl drop from the storm clouds into our lap. It just reaffirms the fact that Tampa Bay is great at lap. And Monday it became official: Next year's NHL All-Star Game will be held at Amalie Arena. The best in the world will be here to shoot and score. And …

    MVP Wayne Gretzky is congratulated at the 1999 NHL All-Star game, the last time the event was in Tampa Bay. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times file]
  5. How the 2018 NHL All-Star Game reflects Jeff Vinik's vision for Tampa

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There were several reasons the NHL announced Monday that Tampa will host the 2018 All-Star Game on Jan. 28.

    This was the  logo for the 1999 NHL All-Star game played Sunday, Jan 24, 1999 at the Ice Palace in Tampa Bay. (AP Photo)