Using Zebrafish to Spark Student Interest in Science
Introduction

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.

Dr. Steven Farber discusses BioEYES.

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.

A student examines zebrafish larvae with the ZEISS Stemi 305 stereo microscope.

A student examines zebrafish larvae with the ZEISS Stemi 305 stereo microscope.

BioEYES Curriculum

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.

Tracy Nelson, Outreach Educator at BioEYES, Philadelphia, USA

Microscopy is at the core of the BioEYES program. The microscopes are often the favorite part of the experience, as reported in student feedback!

Tracy Nelson

Outreach Educator at BioEYES, Philadelphia, USA

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
Zebrafish embryos, 10-12 hours post-fertilization

Zebrafish Embryos, 10-12 hours post-fertilization

Embryos visualized with darkfield stereo microscopy.

Zebrafish embryos, 48 hours post-fertilization
Zebrafish embryos, 48 hours post-fertilization

Zebrafish Embryos, 48 hours post-fertilization

Wildtype and albino embryos can be distinguished using brightfield stereo microscopy.

Zebrafish larva
Zebrafish larva

Zebrafish Larva

This larva displays the characteristic dominant trait of dark pigmentation visualized with brightfield stereo microscopy.

BioEYES Looking Forward

BioEYES is a popular program that is always in demand. With newly developed virtual content, they will continue to educate even when virtual learning is the best or only option. They will continue to support the expansion of the program to new locations. They also expect to expand partnerships with research faculty in support of their federal grants, which often result in new cutting-edge science curriculum for elementary, middle and high schools.


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