Grants boost biology study at Dell Rapids, Baltic schools
December 31. 2013 12:51PM
Biology students at Dell Rapids High School know who has the most “hot air” in the class, and Baltic High School sophomores know how to cook gluten-free, all thanks to Excellence in Education grants from the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation.
“The kids, anything hands-on, they like,” said Doug Fiedler, biology teacher at DRHS. He and fellow science teacher Darwin Daugaard received $1,000 to buy equipment to help students learn and might even prompt them to pursue science after high school.
The department used the grant money to buy probes and sensors that allow students to take blood pressures, heart rates, oxygen levels and lung capacities.
Seniors Keagan Stanton and Easton Kluever said the lung capacity tests in their anatomy class resulted in contests to see who had the most wind and who could hold his or her breath the longest. Neither won, but they enjoyed using the new spirometer to test lung capacity.
Easton said it was more accurate than the old way of measuring lung capacity, which was to blow into a balloon, then measure it and do the math to see how much air it held.
Daugaard said the grant also covered the purchase of a sensor to measure oxygen levels in the body, and an accelerometer. In one test, he said, students put the accelerometer under their belt buckle and jumped up and down, measuring the acceleration as they landed, both with knees flexed and with knees held stiffer.
Baltic’s $1,000 grant paid for the cost of blood sampling. Phlebotomists came out to the school and took blood from seven kids, biology teacher Alex Langner said. Each sample was tested for possible allergies to 45 foods.
“Some of them came back with certain foods they didn’t think they’d be sensitive to,” Langner said. “I think it was a good experience.”
Students were divided into groups, and each group had to make a menu and prepare dishes that included substitutes for the offending foods. Then they gave a presentation on their experience.
“Which is good, because it gets them into public speaking … and that’s a good skill,” Langner said.
“The programs we’ve done have challenged the kids’ thinking and to take the knowledge they’ve learned.”
“It gave us some life experiences doing some of this,” Fiedler said. “And it was just another tool in the classroom.”