Using Zebrafish to Spark Student Interest in Science
A science outreach program uses classroom microscopes and zebrafish to excite and engage students.
Reaching over 155,000 students in thirteen global locations, the BioEYES science education program is impacting students world-wide. Microscopy is at the core of the BioEYES program and students in the Philadelphia, USA area delight in using a ZEISS Stemi 305 stereo microscope to visualize zebrafish embryos and larvae.
Creating the BioEYES STEM Outreach Program
20 years ago, Dr. Steven Farber, a zebrafish scientist and researcher at the Carnegie Institution for Science, Baltimore, USA, saw how exciting zebrafish were to children when he brought live specimens from his laboratory to his son’s classroom. Together with Dr. Jamie Shuda, an experienced educator, they co-founded BioEYES, a science education program for primary school through high school which provides classroom-based learning opportunities through the use of live zebrafish.
BioEYES has four levels from elementary through high school. All levels emphasize microscope use and scientific thinking, but the elementary grades focus more on comparing fish and human development while the upper grades focus quite a bit on Mendelian genetics, embryonic development, and the importance of model organisms to scientific research.
In addition, BioEYES has an optional 2nd week-long lab for the upper grades. “Fish Dynamics” was designed to focus on graphing skills as well as experimental design. Students raise zebrafish embryos at three different temperatures to see how temperature affects their development.
Microscopy is at the core of the BioEYES program. The microscopes are often the favorite part of the experience, as reported in student feedback!
What Students See Through the Microscope
As zebrafish embryos are transparent, students can see an incredible amount of detail.
Zebrafish Embryos, 10-12 hours post-fertilization
Embryos visualized with darkfield stereo microscopy.
Zebrafish Embryos, 48 hours post-fertilization
Wildtype and albino embryos can be distinguished using brightfield stereo microscopy.
This larva displays the characteristic dominant trait of dark pigmentation visualized with brightfield stereo microscopy.